Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and member experience at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), has written to all 44 sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) leads across England explaining the value of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in care homes.
In his letter, Turner states that pharmacists working in care homes across the UK could save the NHS an estimated £135m a year through medicines interventions and reduced hospital admissions.
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in care homes can also ensure that antipsychotics are used appropriately and that patients are supported when transferring between care settings, he adds.
According to Turner’s letter, which is the third in a series of briefings to STPs, there are currently around 400,000 older people living in care homes who are taking an average of eight medicines each. He adds that of the estimated £300m worth of medicines wasted in England in 2017, £24m was attributed to medicines in care homes that were disposed of unused.
The letter follows an announcement in February 2018 that the Pharmacy Integration Fund will be used to place 180 clinical pharmacists and 60 pharmacy technicians into care homes over the next two years. The roll-out will be delivered through the Medicines Optimisation in Care Homes (MOCH) programme and will enable every STP to deploy pharmacists and pharmacy technicians into their local care homes. Pharmacists are expected to begin implementing the programme in October 2018.
The MOCH programme will also train 600 community pharmacy-based pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to help deliver multidisciplinary care in care home settings, which could include care settings for children and young people and for patients with mental health problems.
Turner’s letter reiterates a point made in the previous two briefings: that to fully realise the benefits that pharmacists’ expertise can bring, the sector must be fully embedded in STP implementation plans and working groups.
In May 2018, the RPS appointed four regional liaison pharmacists to advocate for the sector’s value to local and regional healthcare networks. In April 2018, a survey carried out by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and Pharmacy Business magazine found that only two local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) had a pharmacist on the STP board and 12% of LPCs said they had no involvement with STPs.