A collaboration between hospitals and pharmacies in Cheshire and Merseyside has saved the NHS £11m over three years through a reduction in hospital re-admissions.
The Transfer of Care Around Medicines initiative is also improving patient safety and quality of care by providing support for patients and their carers following a hospital discharge, the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership claimed.
All 635 community pharmacies in Cheshire and Merseyside are participating in the scheme, which has been shown to help reduce the number of avoidable bed days in hospital.
Under the initiative, pharmacies are notified by their local hospital when a patient is discharged who might need help understanding changes made to their medicines. Around 60 per cent of patients have three or more changes made to their medicines during their stay in hospital, and only 10 per cent of older patients are discharged with the same medication they were admitted with.
In 2016 NHS England in Cheshire and Merseyside received funding to help introduce new systems enabling the transfer of care from hospitals to community pharmacies. A secure digital system allows a hospital pharmacy team, with the patient’s consent, to inform their local pharmacy of the patient’s medicines on discharge and the reasons for any changes so the pharmacist can follow up with advice and services.
As of May 2019, Transfer of Care Around Medicines has been implemented in 10 trusts, including 11 hospitals, two mental health trusts– believed to be the fastest adoption and widest roll-out of such an initiative in any region in England.
By March 2019 there had been 17,686 referrals to community pharmacists resulting in an estimated reduction of 6,008 bed days to the NHS as well as improved patient safety and quality of care.
Una Harding, pharmacist at Day Lewis Pharmacy in Aintree, said: “We now get notifications on our system on a daily basis. New discharges or referrals are the first thing you see when you log on. If we see a patient has recently been in hospital we can make a note to speak to them about their medication when they next come in. Patients now understand we can deliver more for them. There’s a culture now where people are realising that their GP doesn’t always have to be the first port of call.”
Dr Liz Mear, chief executive of the Innovation Agency, said: “The initiative demonstrates the value of community pharmacies as a key part of our healthcare infrastructure. Transfer of Care Around Medicines has been adopted by the AHSN Network nationally as one of our key innovation programmes and I hope that Cheshire and Merseyside will be an exemplar to other regions.”