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money notes pound coinsFebruary 24 2016

A campaign is calling for pharmacists to have a greater role in managing medicines in care homes to improve patient care and save NHS expenditure.

 

NHS savings totalling £135 million could be made each year through employing pharmacists in care home settings, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has proposed.

Data from three local pilots suggests that if rolled out across England:

  • £75 million could be saved through the prevention of avoidable hospital admissions; and
  • £60 million could be saved as a result of a pharmacist optimising medicines.

The figure includes savings of approximately £24 million that would occur due to reducing medicines wastage in care homes.

The RPS campaign has been launched with a report calling for a number of changes to be made.

Core recommendations include:

  • pharmacists should have overall responsibility for medicines and their use in care homes;
  • one pharmacist and one GP should be responsible for medicines in each care home, ensuring coordinated and consistently high standards of care;
  • where a care home specialises, for example in dementia care, the pharmacist should ensure they are competent to support the relevant clinical speciality;
  • local commissioners (such as clinical commissioning groups or NHS England) should commission pharmacists to provide medicine reviews within care homes;
  • pharmacists should lead a programme of regular medicine reviews and staff training, working in an integrated team with other healthcare practitioners ensuring.

The report also calls for changes to be made which could improve care home resident safety, such as:

  • by allowing pharmacists to have full read and write access to patient records;
  • residents having regular falls risk assessments including the risk from medication;
  • pharmacists having a greater input into the way psychotropic medicines are used to ensure prescribing is kept to a minimum; and
  • pharmacists having more input into improving end of life care.

An estimated 405,000 people aged over 65 reside in care homes in the UK, with approximately 97% being prescribed at least one medicine, said the RPS. Nearly three quarters are exposed to a minimum of one potential medicine administration error.

Launching the campaign, Sandra Gidley, Chair of the RPS English Board, said: “Care home residents take an average of seven medicines a day, with some taking double or treble this amount. Without a regular review of what’s still needed, this cocktail of drugs can cause poor health, a lower quality of life and costly unnecessary admissions to hospital.

“At a time when GP workloads are overwhelming and the NHS needs every penny, pharmacists can provide the solution by stopping the use of unnecessary medicines, upgrading residents to newer types of medicines with fewer side-effects and reducing the amount of wasted medicines.

“Having a pharmacist responsible for the use of medicines in a care home as part of the team of health professionals would also bring significant savings through regular reviews. The evidence is clear: now is the time for the NHS to act and improve the care of residents by ensuring a pharmacist has responsibility for the whole system of medicines and their use within a care home.”

Laurie Thraves, Senior Policy Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, commented: “With 70% of people in care homes estimated to have dementia, having a pharmacist on hand to support people with the condition to manage and review their medication on a regular basis would be a welcome measure.

“Many people with dementia live with other long-term health conditions and there is a danger that, without effective management, they could end up on a number of drugs which could interact negatively with each other, exacerbating the symptoms of their dementia. Having a visiting pharmacist in care homes has the potential to both save money and improve quality of life.”

RightMedicine1

Links:

RPS announcement

RPS ‘The Right Medicine - Improving Care in Care Homes’ report

RPS campaign

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