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Community pharmacy not represented on Hunt's NHS medicines error group

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The short life working group advised Jeremy Hunt on medication errors and safety
The short life working group advised Jeremy Hunt on medication errors and safety

No community pharmacists were included on a Department of Health and Social Care (DH) group that advised Jeremy Hunt on reducing medication errors in the NHS, C+D can reveal.

C+D has obtained the full list of members of the advisory group – who drafted an influential report that informed health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt’s announcement of “ground-breaking” measures to address medication errors – through a freedom-of-information request.

Mr Hunt said the measures – a legal defence for inadvertent dispensing errors which came into force last month, proposals for hospitals to access GP practices' prescribing data, and a £75 million investment to implement electronic prescribing in hospitals – would reduce what researchers estimated are “237 million medication errors [that] occur at some point in the medication use process in England” every year.

The members of the “short life working group” (listed here) included academics, representatives from NHS England and the DH, and the healthcare watchdog, the Care Quality Commission.

Half of the group were pharmacists – although none currently practise in the community sector. The group was chaired by England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge.

The DH told C+D it had “aimed to get a range of members covering a variety of disciplines and backgrounds”.

Read C+D’s full analysis of the members of the short life working group – and whether having no community pharmacist members was “deliberate” – here.

Sector snub a “missed opportunity”

Graham Phillips, director of the Manor Pharmacy group in Hertfordshire, told C+D he believes Dr Ridge is failing to represent the profession at the decision-making table. “I don’t think Keith Ridge is held enough to account,” he claimed.

Mike Hewitson, owner of Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, said: “This misses such a big opportunity to engage with frontline community pharmacists and technicians – the people who understand how medicines safety works.”

New medicines safety drive

Dr Ridge signalled his latest move to tackle medicines safety in the NHS, at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress in London last week (April 27).

In his keynote speech, Dr Ridge told the audience he and Mr Hunt want to put “transparency…more on the agenda in terms of medication safety”.

NHS England is developing “new medicines safety metrics”, Dr Ridge announced, involving community pharmacy reimbursement and hospital data being published together “for the first time”, to reveal which medication issues are sending people to hospital.

Read C+D’s full analysis of the members of the short life working group – and whether having no community pharmacist members was “deliberate” – here.

2 Comments
Question: 
How can community pharmacists help to reduce medication errors in the NHS?

Overworked Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Another excellent example of the relentless hard work and research done by the C&D team. Unfortunately we don’t have the unity within the profession to make lasting change. We are very badly represented in my opinion within this industry, especially with ‘Yes’ people for the government. Time for change? Time for action??? Anybody even bothered??? 

A Hussain, Senior Management

So errors that could reach a much greater proportion of the population don't matter.  Was Keith Ridge forced to do endless MUR's by a pharmacy earlier in his career or something?!

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