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Academics reveal East Midlands 'frontline' pharmacy strategy

The East Midlands group aims to improve transfer of care between hospitals and pharmacies
The East Midlands group aims to improve transfer of care between hospitals and pharmacies

A collaborative health and science group in the East Midlands has launched a long-term strategy that aims to utilise the skills of pharmacists within the local healthcare system.

The East Midlands Academic Health Science Network’s (EMAHSN) ‘Frontline pharmacy strategy’ aims to “capitalise on the wealth of expertise” and provide a “direction for the delivery of pharmacy services” in the region.

Working in collaboration with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), NHS England and three university schools of pharmacy, the group has developed four main priorities for health and social care in the East Midlands: electronic clinical transfer of care; making the most of healthy living pharmacies; enhancing care in care homes; and improving care of people with long-term conditions.

The group said the four-point strategy – launched last week (May 24) and expected to be developed further over the next five years – references a number of different reports published over the last few years, including the most recent 'Murray review' into pharmacy clinical services.

Cheryl Crocker, EMAHSN regional lead on patient safety collaboration, told C+D that the 11,500 community pharmacies in England are an “untapped” resource.

“There is a far greater need to make use of pharmacists in the prevention of ill health, support for healthy living and support for self-care,” Dr Crocker told C+D on the day the strategy was launched. “It is about making better use of the skills available.”

What are the four priorities?

1) Clinical handover of care

The group aims to support patients who have been recently discharged and improve the transfer of care between hospital and community settings, it said.

"Community pharmacy can support people post-discharge by working with hospital colleagues to deliver the new medicine service (NMS) and discharge medicines use review (MURs) consultations," the group said.

Dr Crocker explained that this would involve the transfer of information from acute hospital settings to community pharmacies, and highlighted that it could benefit patients on a number of medicines who need support when they are at home.

“There are systems already in place, but not being used effectively,” she said. “[We are] trying to understand which groups of patients would most benefit.”

2) Healthy living pharmacies

The group said it aims to tap into the "tiered commissioning framework" of the healthy living pharmacy network.

"We are scoping to see what this might look like. It is about supporting patients with minor ailments and advice," Dr Crocker said.

3) Enhanced health in care homes

The group's enhanced health in care homes model will become "a core element of the multispeciality community provider", it said.

It highlighted that the RPS, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Geriatric Society "believe that one community pharmacy and one GP practice should be aligned to one care home to allow the development of better care".

4) Pharmacist-led care of long-term conditions

The group described pharmacists as “unused resources” that could make “an immediate difference” by freeing up GPs to manage more complex cases.

"As more people use medicines to manage one or more long-term conditions and more specialist care is delivered closer to home...pharmacists are well placed to provide" clinical advice on effective and safe medicines use, the group said.

Services carried out by community pharmacists increase medicines adherence by around 10%, it added.

However, it said that "innovative commissioning is required locally to enable pharmacists to demonstrate their full potential". 

What are academic health science networks?

  • There are 15 academic health science networks across England, which were established by NHS England in 2013 to “spread innovation”, improve health, and generate economic growth.
  • They connect the NHS with academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry.
  • Each AHSN works within its own area to develop projects, programmes and initiatives that reflect the healthcare challenges of their local populations.

Source: East Midlands Academic Health Science Network


What do you make of this strategy?

peter kelly, Community pharmacist

What I find most interesting about all the talk of changing the structure and set up of pharmacies is that you never hear anyone ask: what do the patients/customers want?

Are patients/customers unhappy with the current model of doing business and do they want change? They will have a big say in how the future pans out. I could be wrong but I think they kind of like the current set up.

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Assuming that the government are determined for prescriptions to be dispensed and delivered by a centralised hub (which they are) how exactly does a distance selling pharmacy meet HLP criteria?  Will Royal Mail be recruited to assist?  Will they also be able to deal with the transfer of care from secondary to primary care?

If one pharmacy is to be aligned to one care home, how will reducing the number of community pharmacies by 3,000, as suggested necessary by Keith Ridge, allow this to happen?  Again, will a big warehouse pharmacy in an industrial park be able to give specialised and personalised care to the smallest of residential homes and the biggest of nursing homes?

To paraphrase Mr Justice Collins, what the government plans to do is wrong.  You cannot expect to close up to 3,000 pharmacies then expect that same, now over stretched, sector do more for you.  The sooner the government realise that they are misguided in their actions the better.

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