England’s Department of Health to review hospital pharmacy services to identify cost savings

Project will compare the scope and scale of pharmacy services across trusts in England.

Hospital pharmacists could still face criminal prosecution for making an inadvertent dispensing error, despite UK government proposals to change the law.

England’s Department of Health is to review hospital pharmacy and medicines optimisation services as part of a wider examination of how to cut waste in NHS procurement.

The project will look at a hospital’s drugs expenditure, use of medicines, patient outcomes and will include benchmarking of all aspects of pharmacy services.

The results will be used to compare the scope and scale of pharmacy services across trusts in England and to see if there is any link between these and the optimal use of medicines.

The aim is to find new ways of delivering services to drive better use of medicines while recognising the need to move to seven day services.

Details of the Hospital Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation Project (HOPMOP), which is being overseen by the NHS procurement and efficiency board, were revealed by England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge, who will chair the project.

“Across the NHS it is widely recognised that hospital pharmacy activities make valuable contributions to patient outcomes and enable patient access to appropriate, safe, clinically and cost effective medicines,” Ridge said at a meeting of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists procurement and distribution interest group (PDIG) held in Birmingham on 6 November 2014.

“What is less clear is the amount of variation in provision of these activities across the country and whether there is a direct relationship between the cost and deployment of hospital pharmacy services and outcomes in terms of medicines use,” he added.

The HOPMOP will not consider the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme — the scheme used to contain NHS costs of branded medicines.

Allan Karr, pharmacy business services manager at UCL Hospitals Trust in London and PDIG’s immediate past chairman, describes the project as “far reaching”.

“Hospital pharmacies are already performing well in terms of medicines procurement; we have some well tried and tested strategic systems in place. Pharmacists have been looking at efficiencies for years,” he says.

“This project will highlight those well performing trusts, how they have saved money and the resources that are required to do that, and will enable trusts with limited resources to develop a strategy for improving performance.”

The project’s final timetable has yet to be decided but it is expected to run until at least 2016. 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 20/27 December 2014, Vol 293, No 7841/2;293(7841/2):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20067261

You may also be interested in