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An NIHR GM PSTRC (NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre) funded free e-learning course which has been accessed by 7000 prescribers since 2014 has undergone an evaluation and been re-launched with the addition of new content. 

Dr Richard Knox from the University of Nottingham is one of the researchers who has worked on the e-learning course, Prescribing in General Practice. He talks about the impact of the course and the new updates here:


Prescribing in General Practice is an e-learning course, hosted on the Royal College of General Practitioners’ (RCGP’s) e-learning platform. It’s a case-based approach designed by prescribers so there’s a focus on real life examples. It was launched in 2014 and has recently undergone revisions from people who use it to ensure all the real-life examples that are used meet current guidelines.  The course was also evaluated by researchers at the GM PSTRC in a new paper, which has been published in the journal Education for Primary Care.

To help assess the course’s success, in the paper, researchers used the results of a questionnaire completed by those who finished the e-learning modules. According to this the course had a positive impact on knowledge, skills and attitudes. More than 98% of 750 survey responders said the course had been a useful part of their continuing professional development.

Those who responded also wrote additional feedback and some examples are below:

This module comprehensively covered contemporary prescribing issues particularly with respect to safety. It was grounded in everyday practice and informed by real life examples of prescribing errors and how they may occur and how to mitigate against them at an individual and at a systems level.”

“Usefully it was from the RCGP so the majority of medicines and cases presented were similar to what I would encounter on a daily basis in work. I feel from completing this module my safety and efficiency in prescribing will improve.”

“This course is going to change/improve many aspects of my prescribing practice. I would definitely spend more time on writing clear instructions for patient.”

The course was initially developed to facilitate safer prescribing among GPs. However, funding from the GM PSTRC has enabled the course to be free-to-use for all prescribers, regardless of professional background. This has increased the impact of the course which improves the safety of prescribing more widely.

The original idea for the e-learning materials came as a direct result of findings from the General Medical Council’s PRACtICe study. This was a large study of prescribing errors in UK general practice, which revealed that about one in twenty prescriptions from primary care contains an error. The PRACtICe study included a root cause analysis that helped establish a set of recommended strategies that may improve prescribing. The need to invest further in education and training was identified by all GPs, whatever their stage or experience of prescribing. A series of focus groups made up of GP trainers, GPs in training, pharmacists and members of the public also confirmed support for further training to be made available. The value of e-learning was championed – with stakeholders requesting a strong case-based approach to help inform real-world practice.


The e-learning includes five distinct lessons, each taking about thirty minutes to complete:

  • Lesson one – Appropriate drug selection
  • Lesson two – Avoiding prescribing errors
  • Lesson three – Choosing the right drug
  • Lesson four – Right dose instructions
  • Lesson five – Effective medication reviews

Due to the updates the course now includes specific sections on topics such as prescribing multiple medications for the same person at the same time (polypharmacy) and the use of the Seven Step medication review process.

Please note, this course is now RCGP Members' benefit. Non-members have an option to purchase the course. You can access the Prescribing in General Practice course here.  

[ Modified: Tuesday, 10 January 2023, 1:21 PM ]