Community pharmacists should be included in multidisciplinary teams that carry out assessments after patients are discharged from hospital, a report by the charity Healthwatch has said.
The report on patients’ experiences of being discharged from hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic noted “a real gap in the provision of post-discharge community health and social care services”.
It said that nearly half of people with a disability (45%) and a fifth (20%) of people with a long-term condition were not having their support needs met after their discharge from hospital.
The report based its findings on a survey of 590 patients, carers and staff who had experience in the hospital discharge process during the pandemic.
The report said that health and care staff raised “several issues in relation to patient medication”.
“For example, patients were often discharged without medication or not given enough medication. Alongside this, there was little, or no, information given to patients and their carers about administering medication,” the report said.
It added that social distancing rules meant that “some GPs were not conducting home visits which made it difficult for some people to obtain follow-up prescriptions”.
Healthwatch, therefore, recommended patients “link up with community pharmacists” to improve the administration of medication.
“Local health systems should include pharmacists in the multidisciplinary teams carrying out post-discharge community assessments, if they are not already,” the report concluded.
Claire Anderson, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said: “It’s vital patients who are prescribed new medicines while in hospital get the right support when discharged.
“Existing discharge schemes from hospital to community pharmacies are already helping patients get the maximum benefits from new medicines and reducing hospital readmissions.
“They’re a win-win for patients and the NHS and we’d like to see this replicated across the country.”
Healthwatch’s recommendations come ahead of the national discharge medicines service, which will launch in January 2021.
Hospitals will be able to digitally notify community pharmacies when patients who have recently been discharged may need advice on taking new medicines, as well as any changes to their prescriptions.
The service will build on the existing ‘transfer of care around medicines’ scheme, which has been running in parts of the country since 2014.