RPS report says having pharmacists in care homes could save the NHS £135m per year
The NHS could save £135m a year through the widespread introduction of a pharmacist into every care home across Great Britain according to a new report by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS). ‘The Right Medicine – Improving Care in Care Homes’ report concludes that pharmacist-led medicine reviews in care homes can not only improve safety for elderly care home residents but also save the NHS money by preventing avoidable hospital admissions.
In response to the report’s findings, the RPS, Alzheimer’s Society, The Patients Association and Care England, have called for a pharmacist, as part of the healthcare team, to take charge of the whole system of medicines and their use within a care home to improve patient care, reduce the waste of NHS medicines and prevent the serious harm that can be caused by inappropriate medicines use in elderly residents.
Sandra Gidley, chair of the RPS English Board said care home residents took an average of seven medicines a day with some taking double or treble this amount.
“The number of drugs prescribed by hospital, community and out of hours care for multiple conditions can quickly mount up,” said Ms Gidley.
“Without a regular review of what’s still needed, this cocktail of drugs can cause poor health, a lower quality of life and costly unnecessary admissions to hospital.
“Pharmacists can provide the solution by stopping the use of unnecessary medicines, upgrading residents to newer types of medicines with fewer side-effects and reducing the amount of wasted medicines. Having a pharmacist responsible for the use of medicines in a care home as part of the team of health professionals would also bring significant savings through regular reviews. The evidence is clear: now is the time for the NHS to act and improve the care of residents by ensuring a pharmacist has responsibility for the whole system of medicines and their use within a care home.”
There are currently 405,000 care home residents in the UK aged over 65 with about 9% being prescribed at least one medication. Nearly three quarters are exposed to a minimum of one potential medicine administration error. The RPS estimates that pharmacist-led medicine reviews with residents and their families can save up to £60m per year as a result of a pharmacist stopping, reducing, starting or changing medication.
Pharmacist-led medicine reviews in care homes have also been calculated to save £190 per resident by preventing avoidable hospital admissions caused by potential drug related adverse events. When the RPS applied this cost saving to the number of elderly care home residents across the UK on at least one medication, it was estimated that more than £75m per year could be saved.