Pharmacists should work across health and social care to improve medicines safety, CQC says

An inspection report by the Care Quality Commission supports the need for pharmacies in health and social teams to cut medicines errors in the NHS.

Sign outside of pharmacy

All health and social care providers should have pharmacy staff on their team to improve medicines safety, according to a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

Organisations should also find ways to work more collaboratively with community pharmacies and treat them as “partners” in the drive to outlaw poor practice in medicines management, the report said.

The recommendations, which were published on 6 June 2019, and apply to all hospital trusts and social care providers, were part of the CQC’s analysis of its inspection reports and the management of medicines and patient safety.

The ‘Medicines in health and social care’ report said it found examples of “risk and unsafe practice” across a range of different health and social care settings.

It said risks in medicines administration were often linked to poor record keeping including “incorrectly transcribed” records and failure to detail administration, adding that there were ongoing risks around the continuation of medicines supply when patients were transferred elsewhere with systems “under pressure”.

The report also revealed how high-risk medicines in acute hospitals were also not always prescribed and supplied in a “timely way” and medicines review was infrequent.

Sarah Billington, head of medicines optimisation at the CQC, said she hoped the report — which also highlights examples of best practice — would help improve medicines safety across the sectors.

She said there was an “urgent need” for collaborative working to improve how medicines are managed when people are transferred between different healthcare settings.

“Pharmacy professionals should play a central role in facilitating this, by promoting the safe and effective use of medicines across all sectors,” she said.

The report acknowledged that in primary care “there is great benefit” in GP practices working more closely with pharmacy professionals to focus on medicines optimisation.

“Using their expertise can reduce pressure on their practice. All primary care providers can benefit from the skill mix of community pharmacists, practice pharmacists and pharmacy technicians,” it added.

One suggestion in the report was that all social care providers should have an “attached or named pharmacist” who would be able to support and advise staff with issues around the use of medicines.

The CQC also said it wanted to increase the profile of acute trust medication safety officers — a role it described as “crucial” in the “prescribing, monitoring and administration” of high-risk medicines.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2019, Vol 302, No 7926;302(7926):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206640

You may also be interested in