NHS Wales should make better use of pharmacists’ expertise in supporting patients who become dependent on prescription medicines, a committee that advises the Welsh Assembly has said.
The Assembly’s Petitions Committee, which considers petitions submitted by members of the public, highlighted Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s
Prescribed Medication Support Service, in which pharmacists work with other healthcare professionals to develop personalised withdrawal programmes for patients at risk of dependence. The Welsh government should, the report says, “investigate, as a priority, the potential for a national rollout” of such a service.
In its report, ‘Prescription drug dependence and withdrawal — recognition and support’, the committee also said that during its research several health boards had “highlighted the role that cluster-based pharmacists in primary care can have in medicines management”.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales gave evidence to the committee emphasising pharmacists’ expertise in managing patients taking medication that can lead to dependence, and in supporting patients through managed withdrawal. RPS Wales also used information from the BNF to show that antidepressants should not be routinely prescribed for mild depression: a point taken on board in another of the committee’s recommendations.
Mair Davies, RPS director for Wales, said the society was concerned about the “growing problem of dependency from prescribed medications” and welcomed the Committee’s recognition of the importance of pharmacists in supporting patients experiencing dependency.
“This report should take us a step closer to tackling issues of medication dependency in Wales,” she said.