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Older people prescribed 'too many pills'

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A doctor has warned older people are being prescribed ‘too many pills’ and an ‘obsession with government targets is superseding common sense’.

According to Michael Oliver, professor in cardiology at the University of Edinburgh, older people often visit a doctor feeling ‘reasonably well’, but are sent home with medication.

He said that GPs are part of a ‘tick-box’ culture that is turning older people into patients and this could prove harmful.

In an article entitled Personal View published online in the British Medical Journal, Prof Oliver said older people are invited for an annual health check, but the GP payments system - the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), which rewards doctors for investigating and taking action to prevent diseases like diabetes and heart disease, could be one of the reasons why too many prescriptions are being made.

He said: ‘What kind of medicine is this? It is politics taking preference over professionalism, obsession with government targets superseding common sense, paternalism replacing personal advice.’

He warned that not enough attention is being paid to the potential side effects of taking so many tablets, such as blood pressure drugs which can lead to vertigo, and beta blockers may reduce blood pressure but `they can also slow activity, mental and physical’.

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