Hospital pharmacist time spent on clinical activities stalls at 75%

Data based on 100 acute NHS trusts in England has revealed a slight decrease in the amount of time hospital pharmacists spent on clinical pharmacy in 2019, when compared with the previous year.

Hospital pharmacy

Hospital pharmacists spent around 75% of their time on clinical pharmacy work in 2019 — a slight drop on the previous year. This falls short of the forthcoming 80% target set out in the 2016 Carter review.

Data released by NHS Benchmarking, based on reports from 100 of the 137 acute NHS trusts in England, showed that an average of 74.6% of hospital pharmacists’ time was spent on clinical activities in 2019: a slight decrease from 2018, when a figure of 74.9% was reported.

The Carter review said that, as part of the Hospital Pharmacy Transformation Programme, trusts must “ensure that more than 80% of trusts’ pharmacist resource is utilised for direct medicines optimisation activities, medicines governance and safety remits”.

The original target for this was April 2020, but was instead pushed back to the end of the 2020/2021 financial year, when the Carter programme was aligned with goals set out in the NHS five-year forward view.

The figures from NHS Benchmarking show that there has there has been a shift towards greater clinical working among hospital pharmacists, with the proportion of time spent on clinical activities sitting at 65.6% in 2016. 

Aamer Safdar, principal pharmacist lead for education and development at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said that the 80% target “was set as an ambition which many hospital pharmacy services have achieved. It would be interesting to see the range of percentages across the hospitals, and which types of hospital have exceeded the 80% target and which still have some way to go”.

He added that “while the 80% target is an aim, there may be legitimate reasons for some hospitals not to reach this, based on their individual circumstances and how they allocate, and define, clinical pharmacy activities.

“It may be the case they have used clinical pharmacy technicians to deliver some clinical activities, so it would be useful to see the percentage of time clinical pharmacy technicians have allocated to these activities.”

A spokesperson for NHS England told The Pharmaceutical Journal that other data, not collected as part of the voluntary benchmarking system, put the clinical activity level among all hospital pharmacists in 2019 at 76%.

They added that, during 2020, the provision of clinical pharmacy services in English hospitals would be reviewed to update the definition of hospital clinical pharmacy.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, January 2020, Vol 304, No 7933;304(7933):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207536

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