Changing the conversation about health

The College of Medicine in HSJ: “Patients are being deprived of better outcomes because of a lack of awareness of social prescribing”

Patients are potentially being prevented from accessing beneficial non-medical treatments simply because healthcare providers don’t know about them, two leading voices from The College of Medicine have said in an article for the Health Service Journal.

Promoting The College of Medicine’s new Beyond Pills campaign, our Chair, Dr Michael Dixon and Vice Chair, Professor Sir Sam Everington, wrote in the health journal that the NHS must now look beyond medicine to better serve both patients and healthcare providers.

The article, published on the HSJ website, urged a new approach, saying: “The NHS is under unprecedented pressure now, with waiting lists growing above 3 million.

“There is a clear need for more nurses, doctors and beds but there is much else that can be done to aid recovery and deal with “non-covid” issues such as the progression of chronic diseases, the late pick up of cancers, mental health problems at all ages and an epidemic of obesity, which has been dubbed ‘the new smoking'”.

An article published in the HSJ by The College of Medicine’s Chair, Dr Michael Dixon and Vice Chair, Professor Sir Sam Everington, urged overprescribing in the UK to be curbed (Photo: Pixabay/Pexels)


The article also discussed the ineffectiveness of drugs when it comes to pain management for some conditions, and the dangers of overprescribing antidepressants, referencing the opioid crisis, already devastating in the US and rising in prominence in Europe too.

On 16th June, The College of Medicine launched its Beyond Pills campaign – calling for Government intervention on over-prescribing – at the Integrated and Personalised Medicine Congress 2022.


Around 1.1 billion medicines are currently prescribed unnecessarily. Supported by eminent voices in both the Government and our healthcare system, the Beyond Pills campaign calls for the Government to immediately address the nation’s unsustainable prescription service through re-prescribing and social prescribing.

The Campaign was established in the wake of the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s National Overprescribing Review, which was published in September 2021 and revealed:

  • 10% of prescribed drugs (approximately 110 million items) are unnecessary and may cause harm;
  • Adverse drug reactions account for 10-20% of hospital in-patient admissions;
  • At least 15% of the population (8.4 million) take more than 5 separate medicines daily, often using one drug to treat side effects of another
  • Dispensing in primary care doubled from 10 prescription items per head per year in 1996 to 20 in 2016
  • Tackling overprescribing could improve the health of millions, achieving benefits ‘comparable to a new blockbuster medicine’, according to the Review’s author, Dr Keith Ridge CBE, former Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England.

Dr Dixon said of the need for urgent action in tackling overprescribing: “Medicine, as we know it, is no longer affordable or sustainable. Nor is it able to curb the increase in obesity, mental health problems and most long-term diseases.

“A new medical mindset is needed, which goes to the heart of true health care. The advantages and possibilities of social prescription are limitless.

“An adjustment to the system now will provide a long-term, sustainable solution for the NHS to meet the ever-increasing demand for funding and healthcare professionals.”

Click on the image below to find out more about The College of Medicine’s Beyond Pills campaign