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Award-winning pharmacy AF scheme adds NMS consultation ahead of launch

A collaborative project to screen for undiagnosed atrial fibrillation (AF) in community pharmacies has added a new medicine service (NMS) consultation ahead of its April rollout.

The C+D Award-winning project – Capture AF – originally involved 10 community pharmacies in Hillingdon, London and the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust’s specialist arrhythmia care team. The pharmacies tested 600 patients for AF over a six-month period in 2016.

After securing £100,000 funding from the Imperial College Health Partners Academic Health Science Network, in collaboration with Pfizer, the Capture AF team has been able to expand the project and aims to “go live [with the service] at the end of April”, Zainab Khanbhai, a senior pharmacist at the trust, told C+D.

Each pharmacy involved in the scheme will screen 100 patients a year, she added.

The service has been “upscaled” since the 2016 project, and now involves 25 pharmacies across the London borough, with the added component of an NMS consultation with a community pharmacist.

“If we didn’t have that [funding], we couldn’t have recruited more pharmacies, because we’re paying them £12 per patient that we see,” she said. “That would’ve been impossible without the money.”

The team hopes the addition of the NMS element will “close the loop” of the service.

“We realised that although we detect and protect, we didn’t really perfect [the service],” Ms Khanbhai said. “[Now] when we see patients in the clinics, we’re passing on any anticoagulation [information], then refer back to the community pharmacist who sent [the patient] to us via PharmOutcomes,” she explained.

Aiming for 30 pharmacies

The aim is to have 30 pharmacies signed up, Ms Khanbhai told C+D, but there may be “practical reasons” why the team has not yet reached this target.

In order to deliver the service, pharmacies are required to have Wifi to carry out an electrocardiogram (ECG) test, PharmOutcomes, an NHS.net email address and a consultation room, she explained.

The service also sees patients referred back to their community pharmacist for a medicines use review (MUR), and committing to “an extra 100 MURs” might be difficult for “very busy pharmacies” on top of their existing MUR quota, Ms Khanbhai added.

65 attend workshops so far

In preparation for the scheme's launch, 65 people attended the first two training workshops last month hosted by the Capture AF team, Ms Khanbhai said. Another workshop is scheduled for April.

Speaking to C+D following the March workshops, Ms Khanbhai said: “We got such a good vibe from people. The pharmacists that attended were there of their own accord. They came after a hard day’s work to the meetings for two and a half hours.”

The workshops featured a “community pharmacist who was initially involved in the first study, to have a chat about practicalities”, as well as talks from an arrhythmia nurse and a patient’s experience of living with AF, she added.

Do you screen for atrial fibrillation in your pharmacy?

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