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Clinical services pilot proves pharmacy's value, says Boots director

Practice Community Pharmacy Future project provides "concrete evidence" that sector can save NHS money, says Alliance Boots' Tricia Kennerley

A project spearheaded by the four largest multiples has provided "concrete evidence" that pharmacy can offer more value to patients and the NHS, Alliance Boots has said.

The Community Pharmacy Future (CPF), set up by Boots, the Co-operative Pharmacy, Lloydspharmacy and Rowlands, found that pharmacies could save £473 million a year and improve patient care by running COPD screening, COPD support and a service for people on multiple medicines, the multiples revealed last week (February 27).

The results were "very exciting" and "really demonstrate and quantify the value of pharmacy", Alliance Boots' healthcare public affairs director Tricia Kennerley told C+D on Friday (February 28).

The project involved pharmacies, including the four multiples and eight independents, running pilots of the services from September 2012 until June 2013 and giving the results to health economics firm IMS Health for evaluation (see box).  

The project found pharmacists could save money by running COPD screening, COPD support and a service for people on multiple medicines

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The COPD services alone could generate annual savings of more than £400m if rolled out on a national scale, found the evaluation, which has now been submitted for academic peer review.

"People are always saying pharmacy can deliver more, and we know pharmacy can offer more value to patients and the NHS," Ms Kennerley explained. "I think we've almost proved what we assumed and knew ourselves, with concrete evidence."

It had been "remarkably easy" to bring independents into the schemes in April 2013 and it proved that they could replicate the same results as the multiples, she added.

Bruce Prentice, secretary for Ashton, Leigh and Wigan LPC, told C+D that running the pilot support service for patients on four or more medicines in Wigan had proven "extremely positive". Not only had the patient benefit been "enormous", but he highlighted that the collaboration had demonstrated what pharmacy could do.

"Commissioners need to know the value of the service. They need to know there's a cost benefit for patients," said Mr Prentice, who provided local support for the project.

NHS England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said the project's results were "very timely" in light of the ongoing Call to Action consultation, which is asking for views on the future of community pharmacy. "These important projects demonstrate again how community pharmacy teams can contribute to both improving outcomes for patients and value for the NHS," he said.

What the evaluation found

Four or more medicines support service

The pilot: 25 pharmacies in the Wigan area ran a support service for patients on four or more medicines. The service reached 620 patients over 65 years old and the evaluation found it led to an increase in medicines adherence and quality of life, as well as a reduction in medical and self-treated falls.

Potential cost savings: £70 million a year from reducing prescribing costs and preventing hospital admissions that result from adverse drug reactions and fractures because of falls.

COPD case finding service

The pilot: The 21 pharmacies participating in the Wirral pilot screened 238 patients for COPD. Of those screened, 57 per cent were deemed to be at risk of developing the condition.

Potential cost savings: If rolled out nationally, the service could save the NHS £264m a year by diagnosing patients earlier. It could also generate a further £214.7m of savings by prompting people to stop smoking.

COPD support service

The pilot: More than 300 patients with COPD in the Wirral were recruited to the support service across 34 pharmacies. Pharmacists helped patients get the most out of their medicines by improving understanding, adherence and technique.

Potential cost savings: An England-wide service could generate annual savings of £134.5m to the NHS, and societal benefits of £4.5m. A further £86.3m could be saved by prompting people to stop smoking.

What other services do you think pharmacy could provide to save the NHS money?

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