Background The UK Medicines Information (UKMi) network is a ‘critical NHS resource’. Innes et al concluded, ‘the broadest cohort of healthcare professionals’ should have access to MI services. MI Centres (MICs) in Scotland provide enquiry answering services to primary and secondary care. There is under utilisation by general practitioners (GPs) in primary care.
Purpose The aims were to quantify and characterise enquiries at the study MIC from GPs, to compare this with other Scottish MICs and to investigate the views of GPs to the MIC services.
Material and methods Firstly, the number and types of enquiries received from GPs, from January 2016 to June 2016, were obtained from the local MIC database using a standardised data collection tool. The lead pharmacists at five similarly sized Scottish MICs were contacted by email to request information from their databases using the same tool. Secondly, a postal questionnaire was developed from the literature and a rigorous process of consultation with relevant experts. The questionnaire contained items on awareness, experiences and views of the MIC. It was piloted and sent in August 2016, with return envelope, to all GPs within the MIC’s catchment area (n=574), after excluding a pilot sample (n=64). A reminder questionnaire was posted 2 weeks later. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. All appropriate ethical and NHS Research and Development approvals were obtained.
Results Of the total enquiries received to the MIC, 55 (4.5%) were from GPs. This was similar to GP usage of most other MICs in Scotland. 193 questionnaire responses (34.3%) were received from GPs. The majority (n=126, 65.3%) were unaware of the MIC. Of those who had contacted the MIC with an enquiry previously (n=35), all were satisfied with the response(s) received. Of the total number of respondents, the majority (n=172, 89.1%) thought access to the MIC would be useful when prescribing medicines.
Conclusion The low response rate limits generalisability but result are similar to previous studies in the rest of the UK. MICs should consider actively promoting enquiry answering service to GPs to ensure equity of care across sectors. Further work to consider this across Europe would be warranted.
No conflict of interest
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