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NHS England to fund bringing pharmacists into care homes

Monday 19th March 2018
NHS England is set to fund 240 places for pharmacists to work in residential care homes to help improve the standard of care offered to residents. Image: Halfpoint via iStock
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Pharmacists are to be recruited to work in UK care homes to ensure residents' prescriptions are being administered correctly as part of a new initiative from NHS England.

The health service is planning to fund 240 pharmacist positions to be based in care homes, following a successful pilot scheme across six sites.

This initial rollout of the concept saw ambulance callouts to residential care homes reduced by 30 per cent, while emergency hospital admissions for residents fell by 21 per cent, as fewer mistakes were made regarding factors such as dosages.

In addition, the number of residents requiring oral nutritional support declined by seven per cent when pharmacists were at close hand to check they were taking their medication properly.

Together, each of these factors combined to reduce spending on drugs for residents by between £125 and £305 for each individual.

Some care home residents can be on ten or more different types of medication at one time, and if these are administered by social care workers who do not have a pharmaceutical background, errors can easily be made.

Speaking to the Telegraph, chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens highlighted that the mindset of "a pill for every ill" can cause more harm than good to care home residents whose health is already frail.

Therefore, NHS England believes that introducing qualified pharmacists into care homes will help to prevent the health risks associated with these mistakes, improving residents' quality of life as a result.

Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, told BBC News that this move was "bang on target" and "a great start" towards improving the care of residents.

"We'd like to encourage NHS England to go even further and give pharmacists overall responsibility for medicines and their use in care homes," she added.

"Around £24 million of medicines is wasted every year in care homes and pharmacists can set up systems that improve efficiency whilst at the same time providing better health outcomes."

Written by James Puckle

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