Care Pathways

24.02.20

New pharmacy referral service to avoid hospital readmission

Managing a patient’s medicines after a hospital discharge can often be a careful balancing act, with new prescriptions sometimes causing side effects or interacting with existing treatments, leading to potential hospital readmissions.

However, from July, hospitals will be able to refer patients who would benefit from extra guidance around their new prescribed medicines to their community pharmacy.

The newly-announced NHS Discharge Medicines Service will help patients to receive the benefits from new medicines they’ve been prescribed by giving them the opportunity to ask pharmacists questions and ensure any concerns are identified as early as possible.

Given a recent audit of NHS hospital discharges showed that 79% of patients were prescribed at least one new medication after being discharged from hospital, there is often the need for further support to maximise the potential of the new medicines. Research from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) having showed people over 65 are less likely to be readmitted to hospital if they’re given help understanding their medication after discharge.

READ MORE: National Pharmacy Association: Community pharmacy in the digital age

The NHS Discharge Medicines Service seeks to address this support and, in doing so, reduce pressures on GPs and hospitals, freeing up valuable staff hours, hospital beds and resources.

It is part of a number of measures being introduced as part of the second year of the five-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I want all patients to get the right care close to home, and to avoid any unnecessary visits to hospital.

“To help do that I’ve begun the Pharmacy First programme, asking pharmacies to do more to support people in the community, as they do in other countries like France. It’s good for patients and great for the NHS because it reduces pressure on GPs and hospitals.

READ MORE: Community pharmacy: a vital link

“These new services will help strengthen what community pharmacists can do, helping interrelation with general practice and hospitals, and help them deliver safer, more efficient patient care right across the NHS.

“This new contract bolsters the enhanced role highly-skilled pharmacists are playing in preventing ill health and helping us to stay well in our communities.”

Bruce Warner, NHS England’s Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, added: “Preventing ill health is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan and over the next year we will introduce the new Discharge Medicines Service to help people most in need of support with their medication, as well as begin to test a variety of new measures to identify people with undiagnosed conditions.

“This will make even better use of the valuable and extensive clinical skills of community pharmacists so that people can ‘walk in’ and get the health advice and help they need, providing an excellent foundation on which we can build for the future.”

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