Pharmacists have one of five key roles to play in medicines management across the health service, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has said.
He told the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry annual conference that this was why NHS England had “taken the unusual step” of funding pharmacists to work in GP practices and care homes.
“We are getting serious about medicines usage and optimisation”, he said. “And we are aiming to cut the number of unnecessary hospital admissions that happen as a result of polypharmacy.”
Stevens also told the conference, held in London on 26 April 2018, that a need to create “financial headroom” was why NHS England had “stepped up to have a conversation” about medicines and other products of low clinical value, and routinely prescribed drugs that can also be bought over the counter.
Late last year, NHS England published new prescribing guidance that meant a range of treatments, including homeopathy, antioxidants, and other supplements would no longer be routinely prescribed. And early in 2018 it approved guidance to restrict prescribing of a number of common over-the-counter medicines for 35 minor self-limiting or short-term health conditions.
The two measures taken together would produce “savings of perhaps a third of a billion pounds over the next 12 months”, Stevens said.
Stevens told the conference that managing medicines, and the medicines budget, was part of a necessary redesign of the healthcare system to create a participatory system where self-management could play a key role.