Updated RPS professional standards aimed to ensure high-quality homecare services across the UK

The standards are aimed at ensuring consistent care across all UK nations for patients receiving medicines and services at home that would have previously been supplied in hospital.
Older man with walking stick being helped by physician in his home

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has updated its ‘Professional standards for homecare services‘ to make them more relevant to teams involved in planning, commissioning and delivering homecare services across the UK.

Originally published in 2013, the standards are aimed to ensure consistent, high-quality care for patients receiving medicines and associated services at home, which can be provided by organisations such as nursing agencies, as well as NHS bodies.

Adherence to the RPS standards is intended to enable providers to ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients, protect them from avoidable incidents and facilitate the best possible outcomes from their prescribed medicines.

In a blog published on 30 January 2024, Wing Tang, head of professional standards at the RPS, said the original standards had become “outdated” because they were “England-centric, repetitive in some areas and complex in others”.

The updated standards have been reviewed for clarity and against the RPS ‘Professional standards for hospital pharmacy services‘, which were first published in 2012 and most recently updated in 2022, the RPS said.

A multidisciplinary UK-wide group comprising representatives from the National Homecare Medicines Committee, Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, Pharmacy Forum of Northern Ireland and Royal College of Nursing also participated in producing the updated standards.

The RPS launched a six-week consultation on the standards in September 2023, evidence from which Tang said “emphasised the need for improvement to the homecare standards”.

“Adherence to the refreshed standards, which consider present and future needs in homecare services, will ensure patients receive the highest level of care,” he added.

“The RPS is committed to advancing healthcare standards through continuous collaboration with patient groups, users of our standards and stakeholders.”

Cathy Harrison, chief pharmaceutical officer for Northern Ireland, said: “I welcome the publication of the updated professional standards for homecare services, which will support safe and effective care for patients and inform improvements in the quality of current and future services across the UK.”

In a report on the state of homecare medicines services in England, published in November 2023, the House of Lords Public Services Committee recommended that chief pharmacists should be given powers to support “back up” homecare medicines services through local community pharmacies, but this was not supported by the government.

In January 2024, a House of Lords committee also called for hospital chief pharmacists to be given more power over homecare medicines services, but this was rejected by the Department of Health and Social Care

The Scottish government announced in April 2023 that it planned to launch a review homecare medicines delivery services.

And, in May 2023, the Care Quality Commission said that it was reviewing concerns over major homecare medicines provider Sciensus.

An investigation published by The Pharmaceutical Journal in November 2023 revealed hundreds of patient safety incidents caused by problematic homecare medicines services.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, February 2024, Vol 312, No 7982;312(7982)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.218309

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