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RPS: Pharmacist for every care home could save NHS £135m

Pharmacists should conduct regular medicines reviews in care homes and train staff, the RPS says

Aligning a pharmacist with every care home could save the NHS £135 million a year, according to a new report from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

A review of three local pilots has suggested that pharmacist medication reviews could save £60m a year by optimising patients’ medicines use, the RPS said. A further £75m could be saved by keeping care home patients out of hospital, it said.

One pharmacist, working with a single GP, should “take charge” of medicines use in each care home, the society suggested.

Local commissioners should pay pharmacists to provide regular medicine reviews and train staff to improve medicines safety in care homes, it said in The Right Medicine: Improving Care in Care Homes report, published today (February 23).

“This will help to solve the issue of medicines waste, improve efficiency and provide better health outcomes for care home residents,” the RPS said.

Embedding a pharmacist within a care home's multidisciplinary team would ensure "consistently high care", the RPS said. Community pharmacists are “ideally placed” to take on this new role, it told C+D this week.

England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said he looked forward to "exploring the proposals further". "It is important that pharmacists are given the opportunity to use their skills to support care home residents," he said.

The proposals in detail

The RPS said pharmacists could particularly help with reviewing the use of psychotropic drugs in care – including antipsychotics – to ensure their use is kept to a minimum.

Pharmacists, prescribers, and care home providers should work together to formalise plans for patients’ end-of-life care, it said. Where a care home specialises in a certain type of care – such as dementia – the pharmacist involved should ensure they are competent in this area, the RPS said.

To establish this new role, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) should create a blueprint for “what good pharmaceutical care in residential homes looks like”, it said. CCGs or care homes themselves should agree contracts for pharmacists to provide additional professional services, the RPS added.

The GP view

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said the concept of allocating one pharmacist per care home is “worth exploring”, and could help reduce pressure on GPs. “We welcome the opportunity to further develop the valuable relationship that GPs have with our pharmacy colleagues.

“Managing polypharmacy effectively is key to ensuring our patients in care homes are kept safe and only take the medicines they need,” RCGP chair Maureen Baker said.


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