This site is intended for Healthcare Professionals only

Benefits of Discharge Medicines Service not being realised, says think tank


Benefits of Discharge Medicines Service not being realised, says think tank

A new report calling for greater uptake of the Discharge Medicines Service and efforts to close the ‘information gap’ between primary and secondary care has been backed by the parliamentary All-Party Pharmacy Group.

The report, titled Medical Evolution and published by the conservative leaning think tank Policy Exchange, focuses on the interface between primary and secondary care and calls for the creation of “interface specialist positions” filled by doctors, nurses and pharmacists over the next one to two years.

The report notes the potential of the Discharge Medicines Service to tackle the effects of “poor communication” around hospital discharge, saying early evaluations of the service “show a reduction in medical discrepancies with medicines known to cause hospital readmission”. 

However, it notes that uptake across Integrated Care System (ICS) regions has been “variable,” with a median rate of five DMS claims per 10,000 population across ICS regions.

Policy Exchange called on NHS England to create clear guidance on patient eligibility criteria to reduce local variation, tackle the “information gap” through service automation and allow community pharmacies to “pre-register” patients.

Labour MP Taiwo Owatemi, a practising pharmacist and chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, welcomed the report, commenting: “The interface between primary and secondary care is becoming increasingly complex, and requires a dedicated approach. This will require ‘whole systems’ to maximise resources to meet the needs of communities.

“A call to optimise the use of the Discharge Medicines Service (DMS) by reducing variability in its use; and recommendations to enable secondary care to more routinely prescribe, reducing demand upon general practice are welcome.”

Report author Sean Phillips commented: “Pharmacy plays a critical role at the interface, from making referrals for urgent cancer investigations to handling complex management after discharge. We want to see pharmacy enabled to play a more strategic role in planning interface initiatives, with training developed to enable them to seamlessly work across settings and in MDTs." 

Nick Thayer, head of policy at the Company Chemists’ Association, said: “Policy Exchange’s timely report sets out numerous pragmatic solutions and recognises the importance of pharmacy in efforts to improve the primary and secondary care interface.

“Despite the Discharge Medicines Service proving its worth in reducing readmissions, patients across England continue to face a postcode lottery. Improved patient outcomes around the transfer of care need a DMS which is embedded into everyday practice. It’s now time to truly harness pharmacists’ skills as experts in medicines at the primary-secondary care interface.”

Copy Link copy link button