Medicine shortages cause ‘moral distress’ for three-in-four GPs

Source: Pulse, Sofia Lind 11.6.24

Three quarters (74%) of GPs experience moral distress because they are unable to prescribe medicines patients need due to ongoing shortages.

This is the finding of a survey carried out by indemnity provider MDDUS, which also found almost a third of this group (30%) suffer moral distress every day at work; and 37% several times a week.

Worryingly, nearly half (45%) reported that they have seen patients’ health deteriorate as a result of medicine shortages. Almost nine-in-ten GPs believe the shortage of prescription medicine is severely hampering their ability to practice safely.

More than a third (36%) of respondents said that medicine shortages worsened in 2024, with over four-in-five (83%) saying there was ‘a lack of guidance on how to advise patients about the shortages’, including ‘timescales for when the medicine they need will become available’.

Over nine in 10 GPs (94%) said their workload has increased due to the medicine shortage and more than half (53%) said they were ‘concerned about the risk of a complaint or claim against them or their practice’.

The situation is also adding flame to the fire of ongoing issues with patient aggression towards GPs, the defence organisation warned. Nearly three quarters (74%) of GPs, reported having to deal with anger or aggression from patients who could not get the first-line medication they want.

One in four (25%) of GPs said they were ‘anxious about coming to work’ because they may be unable to prescribe the medication patients need; and nearly a third (30%) were anxious about having to deal with anger and aggression as a result.

The drugs most affected by shortages, according to the survey, were hormone replacement therapy including oestrogens, progestogens and testosterone (86%), diabetes medicines (GLP-1 RAs such as Ozempic) (80%), epilepsy medicines (42%) and cardiac medicines (30%).

Last week, new analysis revealed that more than three times as many serious shortage protocols (SSPs) were issued in the UK in the two-year period between 2022 and 2024, compared with 2020 to 2022.

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