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Trusts reveal plans to use pharmacy to prevent winter crisis

EXCLUSIVE: Three of five health organisations struck by a crisis last winter have confirmed to C+D plans to use community pharmacy to ease pressure on A&E departments this season

Last winter, hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) around England urged patients to visit pharmacies, as they struggled to cope with “unprecedented” demand. Three organisations that C+D spoke to this week confirmed they have included the sector in their winter plans for 2015-16.
 

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Using community pharmacy? Yes

What happened last winter: The trust signposted patients with non-life-threatening conditions to their local pharmacy in response to a “major incident” caused by demand.

Action this year: The trust directed C+D to Gloucestershire CCG, which is running ‘ASAP’, an initiative offering adults and children advice on where they can receive care if they are ill or injured. The CCG said community pharmacy is “central to the campaign for treatment of minor ailments and signposting to other NHS services”.

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust

Using community pharmacy: Yes

What happened last winter: The Surrey trust experienced “unprecedented demand on local NHS services”.

Action this year: Community pharmacists will be involved in three “locality hubs” the trust has opened in Woking, designed to provide out-of-hospital care for older and vulnerable patients. Further hubs are scheduled to open in the region next year, the trust told C+D.

 

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Using community pharmacy: No

What happened last winter: Hospitals within the trust declared a “major incident” in response to “unprecedented demand” for services.

Action this year: The trust does not have any contractual relationships with pharmacists, so it is “not using them to help ease pressure on our A&E departments”, it told C+D. “However, we are supporting NHS England’s campaign to educate the public about what they can do to ease winter pressures.”

 

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Using community pharmacy: No

What happened last winter: The hospital struggled to cope with patient demand and used its website to signpost patients with non-life-threatening conditions to their local pharmacies.

Action this year: The trust has introduced a hospital service to identify frail patients. Discharged patients will continue to be targeted for medicines reviews by community pharmacists, but the trust has no new initiatives for using the sector this winter.

 

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

Using community pharmacy? Yes

What happened last winter: The trust declared a “major incident” in November 2014 due to “overstretched staff”.

Action this year: The trust has a “streaming model in place that redirects patients to other providers, including pharmacies”. It is also working with North East Essex CCG to further improve the diversion of “appropriate patients”, it added.

 

Are you expecting to deal with more patients this winter?

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