Care home pharmacists to help cut overmedication and unnecessary hospital stays for care home residents

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

NHS England will recruit and deploy hundreds of pharmacists into care homes to help reduce over medication and cut hospital stays.

NHS England believes this will result in around 180,000 people in nursing or residential homes having their prescriptions and medicines reviewed by new pharmacists or pharmacy technicians.

With the average care home resident being prescribed seven medicines daily and studies suggesting one in 12 of all hospital admissions are medicines-related and two thirds of these are preventable; NHS England believe that by pharmacists reviewing medicines will improved patients’ quality of life by reducing unnecessary use and bringing down emergency admissions, with less time spent in hospitals.

In one trial in East and North Hertfordshire, where the model was applied across 37 care homes this approach led to meaningful savings in unnecessary prescribing costs of £249 per patient over a year!

Results from the six NHS England care homes vanguard sites piloting this approach showed:

  • Reduced reported emergency hospital admissions by 21 per cent
  • Reduced oral nutritional support usage by 7 per cent
  • Reduced ambulance call out by up to 30 per cent
  • Made drug cost savings of £125-305 per resident.

NHS England will roll out the approach by funding recruitment of 240 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. The reviews will be done in coordination with GPs and practice-based clinical pharmacists to ensure people are prescribed the right medicines, at the right time, in the right way to improve their health and overall quality of life.

The roll-out of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians into care homes is part of the NHS England plan – Refreshing NHS Plans for 2018/19 – which sets out measures to provide joined-up services for patients to ensure they receive care in the most appropriate place.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “There’s increasing evidence that our parents and their friends – a whole generation of people in their 70s, 80s and 90s – are being overmedicated in care homes, with bad results. Let’s face it- the policy of ‘a pill for every ill’ is often causing frail older people more health problems than it’s solving. So expert pharmacists are now going to offer practical NHS support and medicines reviews in care homes across England.”

Healthwatch England National Director Imelda Redmond, said: “We know from our work on hospital discharge that pharmacy and effective links with care services are key to helping people get home and stay home after receiving treatment. We also know from Healthwatch visits to care homes that at the moment it can be hard for residents to get access to pharmacists, GPs, dentists and other vital services. So this initiative from NHS England, as the health service and local government look to work more closely together on these issues, is a welcome move and we at Healthwatch look forward to following up to see the difference it makes to care home residents.”

You can read more about this story on the NHS England website here


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