Pharmacy referral service to prevent hospital readmission

HOSPITALS in England will be able to digitally refer newly discharged patients to community pharmacists for extra guidance around new prescribed medicines.

The NHS Discharge Medicines Service will launch in July, allowing patients on new medicines to question pharmacists and ensure that concerns are identified early on. The service is part of a new 'Pharmacy First' approach to ease wider pressures on A&Es and general practice.

A recent audit of NHS hospital discharges showed that 79 per cent of patients were prescribed at least one new medication after being discharged from hospital. New prescriptions can sometimes cause side effects, or interact with existing treatments, potentially leading to readmission.

Research by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) shows that people over 65 are less likely to be readmitted to hospital if they’re given help with their medication after discharge.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I want all patients to get the right care close to home, and to avoid any unnecessary visits to hospital. To help do that I’ve begun the Pharmacy First programme, asking pharmacies to do more to support people in the community, as they do in other countries like France. It’s good for patients and great for the NHS because it reduces pressure on GPs and hospitals.

“These new services will help strengthen what community pharmacists can do, helping interrelation with general practice and hospitals, and help them deliver safer, more efficient patient care right across the NHS.”

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