All but one of the people who had personal experience of having medicines reviewed found it helpful.
Of those who hadn't (by far the majority), most – not all – would like the opportunity to discuss their medicines with a health professional. Reasons people gave for not wanting medicines reviewed were:
Avoiding unnecessary change
"I say, if there is nothing wrong, don't mend it."
Fear of being taken off a medication they depend on
"If they suggested coming off a pill – diazepam or HRT – it would be difficult to come off."
Concern that medication reviews may be to save the NHS money and not primarily for the benefit of patients.
The greatest concern amongst people whose medicines were not reviewed was overload on the NHS and a sense that health professionals had other more pressing claims on their time. This was a strong theme in many of our discussions. At the same time it was clear that some places were managing to provide face-to-face
medication review, and this was highly valued.
A range of views was expressed about who should review medicines. Many people began with an assumption that it should be the doctor, but at the same time regarded GPs as under the greatest time pressure.
"I don't suppose they'd find the time"
In exploring this question further in the groups, people were open minded about who should conduct reviews:
It was understood that hospital doctors knew most about specific conditions and the medicines to treat them, but conversely had little knowledge outside their own areas of expertise and lacked an overview of the whole person (this view was most forcefully expressed by a retired hospital consultant)
On the other hand, some people thought that GPs were frightened to take them off tablets that had been started in hospital
"He says 'No, you must take the tablets"
People were generally open to the idea of medication review by pharmacists, but concern was expressed about how the link would be made to the doctor
The practice nurse was seen by many as a good alternative, as she was seen as having more time than the GP, but some concern was expressed that nurses might not have the relevant skills.