Dr Chris Van Tulleken


Dr Chris Van Tulleken, an infection specialist and researcher has launched a very interesting study and 2 part documentary aired on the BBC. The aim of the study was to reduce the amount of medication some NHS patients are prescribed, particularly for pain relief and low mood.

Studies show that after 6-8 weeks on pain killers that there efficacy is decreased and may even be counter productive and can lead to liver damage as well as being addictive.

In his study, Dr Van Tulleken consulted with GP’s at a North East London surgery with 14,000 patients on its books that issues 200,000 prescriptions per year. It became clear that as Dr Chris sat in on a clinic that there is a huge pressure for Doctors to end a 10 minute consultation with a prescription, due in no small part to the patients expectation.

This view is echoed by Dr Muir Gray, chief knowledge officer for the NHS who said ‘Over medication is the most serious problem we face.’ ‘40,000 Doctors with 10 minutes to get closure with a patient who is lead to believe the solution is a prescription , the Doctor with nothing else to offer is under pressure to end with a prescription.’ Dr Muir ended by saying ‘we need to change the way we think, we need to change the way we do things.’

Dr Chris Van Tulleken took time to visit patients at home and put in place alternatives to help combat long term chronic pain and depression. The treatment prescribed was reducing doses and dependancy on pain killers and anti depressants whilst increasing exercise. The results were quite dramatic and well worth a watch for any one suffering from long term pain or depression.The Doctor who gave up drugs is available to view on the BBCi player.

In conclusion I think the Doctors of the future will look more towards disease prevention with support for patients to make the right choices and take regular exercise. Studies show that a 30 minute brisk walk 5 times per week can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of some cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In my opinion well worth the effort and in the long run a lot less costly to the NHS. As Dr Muir Gray said, ‘Its time for change’