NHS England has announced plans to recruit and deploy hundreds of pharmacists into care homes to help reduce overmedication and cut unnecessary hospital stays. Elderly care home residents often have one or more long-term health conditions, such as dementia, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease, and on average are being prescribed seven medicines daily, but it can be more, with around 10 per cent of people aged 75 and over currently being prescribed 10 or more medicines. This is significant as studies suggest up to one in 12 of all hospital admissions are medicines-related and two thirds of these are preventable.
NHS trials show pharmacists reviewing medicines improved patients’ quality of life by reducing unnecessary use and bringing down emergency admissions, with less time spent in hospitals. This approach also led to meaningful savings in unnecessary prescribing costs of £249 per patient in one pilot over a year.
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.
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.”