The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said that doctors were making too many prescribing mistakes, and urged the NHS to realise that the wrong dose or the wrong drug was a leading cause of needless harm.

He revealed that a drive to reduce errors by better use of computers, design of equipment and hospital pharmacies is planned to reduce mistakes.

“The potential for error is huge,” he wrote in the Health Service Journal. Mr. Hunt has made patient safety the main focus of his tenure as health secretary, but now says that not enough attention has been paid to medication errors as he promised to make it his priority.

There are about 16 million hospital admissions a year, and these estimates suggest that about a million may be linked to medicine problems, taking up 5,000 beds at any one time.

The review comes as Jackie Smith, chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council revealed plans for nurses to start training in how to prescribe immediately after qualification. At present they must wait two years.