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IT is NHS’s ‘big friend’ in tackling medication errors, says Hunt

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26 February 2018

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Better use of IT could help the NHS eradicate medication errors, Health and Social Care secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Answering questions during a Facebook Live event today (26 February), Mr Hunt said that ‘four to five people are dying every single day because of medication errors’.

Better use of IT could help the NHS eradicate medication errors, Health and Social Care secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Answering questions during a Facebook Live event today (26 February), Mr Hunt said that ‘four to five people are dying every single day because of medication errors’.

He continued: ‘Tiredness and pressure can definitely contribute to mistakes.

‘We need to put in place systems to make sure we minimise the possibility of these happening.

‘IT is our big friend in this as it can help us develop those processes. Moving towards e-prescribing will help us make sure mistakes don’t happen again.’

£75m investment

Mr Hunt announced that £75m would be invested to help hospitals move towards e-prescribing, since the 2008 recession has put lots of pressure on annual NHS capital budget and prevented further investment.

Around a quarter of hospitals currently use e-prescribing. The scheme should ‘be rolled out across the whole of the NHS over the next five years’, said Mr Hunt.

Aging population

Also answering questions, chief medical officer (CMO) for England Professor Dame Sally Davies argued that although the NHS is under stress, an ageing population might be linked to medication errors.

She said: ‘One of the causes, perhaps, of medical errors now is the increasing aging population.

‘They get given so many drugs. But do they need them? Are they over medicated? How are they interacting with each other?

‘That is one of the biggest areas we’re worrying about.’

Involving patients

Mr Hunt agreed that patients should be involved in discussions and guide a way forward regarding their medication.

He continued: ‘We’ll be involving patients because they are the ones that have the biggest stake in making sure their medications are correct.

‘Increasing patients’ knowledge of what are and aren’t appropriate medication levels can be an enormous help.

‘We have to be much better at opening ourselves up to what patients are saying at a much earlier stage in the process.’

‘His comments follow the findings of research commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), which showed that medication errors could contribute to 22,000 deaths every year and costs the NHS £1.6bn.

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