NHS England started recruiting in 2018, with 203 pharmacists and technicians employed to work in care homes across England so far, it told C+D last Friday (May 10).
The employment of pharmacists in care homes is part of a £20 million plan to improve older people’s health and reduce unnecessary medication, as outlined in the NHS long-term plan earlier this year, NHS England said.
The scheme has been trialled in 14 areas of the country with integrated care systems, the commissioning body added.
Pharmacists must undertake an 18-month “bespoke training pathway” and an independent prescriber qualification to qualify for the role, NHS England confirmed to C+D.
England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said it was funding “expert pharmacy teams” because “too many patients are prescribed medicines they may no longer need or may need adjusting”.
“Increasing the availability of specialist health advice in care homes will mean residents get more personalised treatment, [a] reduced chance of being admitted to hospital and people will have a better quality of life for longer,” he added.
Care home residents take an average of seven medicines a day – with many taking more than 10 – which costs the NHS an estimated £250m each year, NHS England said.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said it is “delighted” the programme to recruit pharmacists into care homes “has been successful and will continue”.
The society’s English board chair Sandra Gidley said: “Including pharmacy professionals in the care home workforce has been proven to cut medication errors, reduce polypharmacy and make savings for the NHS, benefitting patient care and safety.
“We look forward to seeing the programme expand even further and to helping colleagues, residents and their families and carers,” she added.
Are you now working as a pharmacist or technician in a care home setting? Contact C+D at [email protected] to let us know how you are finding it.