Care home pharmacist recruitment drive is “bang on target” says RPS

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Care home pharmacist recruitment drive is “bang on target” says RPS

A £20 million NHS England drive to recruit pharmacists and pharmacy technicians into care homes has been praised as “bang on target” by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, who said it would improve outcomes for care home residents by reducing overmedication and hospital admissions. 

NHS England has announced that around 180,000 people living in nursing or residential homes will benefit from the drive, which will see 240 pharmacists and technicians recruited to review prescription and medicines. Reviews will be carried our in coordination with GPs and surgery-based pharmacists.

'A pill for every ill'?

According to NHS England, a trial showed that using pharmacists improved patients’ quality of life by cutting down on unnecessary medications and reducing hospital stays. One year-long pilot in East and North Hertfordshire also delivered savings of £249 per patient due to a reduction in unnecessary prescribing costs.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens 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.”

Greater integration

RPS England board chair Sandra Gidley said: “Our overstretched NHS is crying out for solutions and this one is bang on target. Concerns about the fact that too many care home residents take too many medicines which do them more harm than good were the driving force behind our care homes campaign which began in 2016.

“Pharmacists have long played a vital role in care homes, and the work done by the care home vanguards has been outstanding. This new move will continue the greater integration of pharmacists across primary and community settings to improve clinical outcomes and we know that colleagues will welcome the opportunity to provide more direct patient care.

“This is a great start and we’d encourage NHS England to go even further and give pharmacists overall responsibility for medicines and their use in care homes. This will drive up standards of patient safety and cut the estimated annual £24 million of medicines wasted in care homes every year.”

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