Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

AIMS: The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruption to routine activity in primary care. Medication reviews are an important primary care activity ensuring safety and appropriateness of prescribing. A disruption could have significant negative implications for patient care. Using routinely collected data, our aim was first to describe codes used to record medication review activity and then to report the impact of COVID-19 on the rates of medication reviews. METHODS: With the approval of NHS England, we conducted a cohort study of 20 million adult patient records in general practice, in-situ using the OpenSAFELY platform. For each month, between April 2019 and March 2022, we report the percentage of patients with a medication review coded monthly and in the previous 12 months with breakdowns by regional, clinical and demographic subgroups and those prescribed high-risk medications. RESULTS: In April 2019, 32.3% of patients had a medication review coded in the previous 12 months. During the first COVID-19 lockdown, monthly activity decreased (-21.1% April 2020), but the 12-month rate was not substantially impacted (-10.5% March 2021). The rate of structured medication review in the last 12 months reached 2.9% by March 2022, with higher percentages in high-risk groups (care home residents 34.1%, age 90+ years 13.1%, high-risk medications 10.2%). The most used medication review code was Medication review done 314530002 (59.5%). CONCLUSIONS: There was a substantial reduction in the monthly rate of medication reviews during the pandemic but rates recovered by the end of the study period. Structured medication reviews were prioritized for high-risk patients.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Clin Pharmacol

Publication Date



general practice, prescribing, primary care