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Scotland’s pharmacists to take over monitoring patients on high-risk medicines

Practice The project aims to reduce prescribing errors by “forging closer links” between community pharmacies and other primary care settings, says Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Pharmacists in Scotland will take over responsibility from GPs for monitoring patients on high-risk medicines, as part of a "ground-breaking" pilot.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), which supports healthcare professionals to use medicines effectively, was awarded £450,000 from charity the Health Foundation to set up the collaborative project between community pharmacists and GPs, it announced last week (April 22).

The Scottish Patient Safety Programme in Primary Care will be overseen by HIS and will run across three NHS boards for two years. Pharmacists will be charged with regularly monitoring the medicines of patients recently discharged from hospital and those on high-risk drugs such as Warfarin or methotrexate.

Under the scheme, pharmacists will regularly monitor patients discharged from hospital and those on high-risk medicines such as Warfarin

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The project aimed to reduce prescribing errors by "forging closer links" between community pharmacies and other primary care settings, HIS said. This will include each NHS Board selecting a high-risk medicine and trying to improve how safely it is prescribed, monitored and dispensed.


Project team leader Jill Gillies said the programme aimed to "bridge the gap" between pharmacists and GPs.

"We know pharmacists are not contacted after a patient is discharged from hospital. Yet they have a vital role to play in ensuring the prescription is safely dispensed and to assist in the patient's ongoing treatment," she said.

HIS said it had not picked the three pilot sites yet, although the project is due to finish in spring 2016, but it wanted the trials to cover both rural and urban areas. Each location will recruit eight pharmacy teams, a pharmacy clinical lead, an acute sector team and two GP practices, which will test various interventions that will be developed as part of the programme.

Pharmacists in each area will be given best practice guidance on how to compare patient discharge prescriptions with dispensed medicines and how to communicate any errors to GPs. They will monitor how often they are identifying discrepancies and how these are resolved by talking to GPs and patients, the Health Foundation said.

The three trial sites will be evaluated by NHS Education for Scotland and the University of Strathclyde to see if the model is robust enough to be rolled out across the country.

HIS was one of 10 successful projects from more than 100 applicants to receive a portion of the Health Foundation's £4 million fund to improve patient safety.

Health Foundation director of strategy Jo Bibby said the charity was confident the programme would be "welcomed extremely positively by all within the healthcare sector".

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