Some community pharmacists in Greater Manchester are now offering additional support to patients with poor mental health living in the community.
As part of a pilot programme, which launched in January 2020, pharmacists from ten pharmacies are advising patients who have been recently diagnosed with depression or anxiety on how to take their medicines and about any potential side effects at an initial medication review.
This is followed by a second consultation 7–14 days later, and again each time the patient renews their prescription.
Pharmacists are expected to offer more holistic support at subsequent consultations and encourage patients to achieve their personal goals, such as spending more time outside or developing a new hobby.
Each of the ten pharmacies are expected to recruit ten patients, including those whose medication for anxiety or depression has been changed.
Hayley Gorton, a senior lecturer in pharmacy practice at the University of Huddersfield, who helped develop the project, said community pharmacists “represent a significant opportunity when looking at how to improve patient safety in the treatment of mental health conditions”.
The pilot was welcomed by Ravi Sharma, director for England at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. “Community pharmacy is the most accessible point of healthcare within the NHS and has a key role in supporting some of the most vulnerable people within our populations,” he said.
“We would like to see all community pharmacies commissioned to provide physical health monitoring and management of these conditions alongside personalised support to enable every patient to achieve a better quality of life.’’
The Greater Manchester pilot follows research by Gorton and others, published in September 2019, that showed pharmacy teams had recognised their potential in supporting people with mental health issues, especially around suicide prevention.
The programme has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR GM PSTRC) — a partnership between the University of Manchester and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.
Darren Ashcroft, deputy director of the NIHR GM PSTRC, said the pilot programme had the potential to “make a difference to patients by providing enhanced support for their care in the community”.
The programme is set to run until April 2020 when its impact will be evaluated before a decision is made on the next steps.