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What is clinical pharmacology?

Clinical pharmacologists play a vital role both in optimising patient treatment and improving NHS efficiency. Their work ranges from reviewing the medicines a patient is taking, to offering expertise to doctors in other specialties about the effects of drugs. ​​

Did you know?​

A quarter of a million people are admitted to hospital in the UK each year following adverse reactions to a variety of commonly prescribed drugs. As well as the impact on the patient, this also costs the NHS close to a billion pounds a year.​

Clinical pharmacologists improve NHS efficiency by reducing poisoning events, minimising prescribing errors, de-prescribing ineffective medications, promoting adherence to prescriptions and reducing adverse drug reactions.

In fact, it has been shown that each £1 spent to hire additional clinical pharmacologists has the potential to reduce NHS costs by almost £6. ​

​Clinical pharmacologists enjoy a great deal of diversity throughout their careers. Some choose to focus on a specific area of medicine, such as A&E, whereas others combine a broad range of work such as teaching and policy to forge a unique career.  

Dr Andrew Scourfield

Dr-Andrew-Scourfield.pngDr Andrew Scourfield is a Specialty Registrar in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and General Internal Medicine at Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. During his medical training he took an intercalated BSc in pharmacology. After foundation training, he tried several specialties and realised that it was medicines rather than organ-based disease that he found most interesting. He spends his time treating patients with overdose and poisoning (working with the clinical toxicology team), attending out-patient clinics and being on-call for acute medical emergencies (e.g. A&E). He also teaches medical students about prescribing medicines, runs clinical trials and is involved in policy work related to managing medicines.​

“Many people think clinical pharmacology is an academic speciality, and whilst there are fantastic research opportunities, I am very much interested in how we can use medicines more safely, efficiently and effectively for NHS patients.” ​

Read more about Andrew’s career path.​