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06.09.16

Underutilised clinical pharmacy should be a key part of seven-day NHS

Pharmacy services in acute hospitals should be used to greater effect to deliver the seven-day NHS, and efforts should be made to address underutilised services, according to a new NHS England report.

The ‘Transformation of seven day clinical pharmacy services in acute hospitals’ document says that to deliver the government’s goal of a seven-day NHS by 2020, pharmacists should be available to discuss medication with patients, embed medicine optimisation in routine practice, and help address staffing shortages.

However, it says that a seven-day pharmacy service faces a number of challenges, including a lack of investment and shortages of worker skills and digital maturity.

Keith Ridge, the chief pharmaceutical officer, said: “This report acknowledges that at various times some hospitals are under utilising the expertise available from clinical pharmacy services. 

“Whilst there is no uniform approach for all hospitals, it is vital that expertise on medicines are available to all patients in hospital in a timely manner seven days a week to improve patient experience, safety and clinical efficiency. This is in line with the Five Year Forward View commitment of the NHS to provide hospital patients with access to seven day services.”

The report said that NHS England and NHS Improvement should establish a Clinical Pharmacy Reference Group as part of plans to deliver the seven-day NHS.

It also said that NHS Improvement and the chief pharmaceutical officer for England should ensure all hospital pharmacy transformation programme plans, which are due to be submitted in April 2017, include robust plans on how they propose to implement seven-day clinical pharmacy services. These plans, along with sustainability and transformation plans and local digital roadmaps, should then be used to deliver reforms.

The government’s plans for a seven-day NHS were criticised recently after the government’s risk management documents into the proposal were leaked, revealing that a lack of staff and robust plans were among the risks listed.

Last week, Community Pharmacy published its new forward view, arguing that pharmacies should play a greater role in community care as well as acute care.

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