The potential to achieve efficiencies in pharmacy services has been well documented. 50% of patients do not take medicines as intended, 5-8% of unplanned admissions are due to medication issues and £300m of medicines are wasted each year: A report from the Department of Health3 highlights the challenges created for both patients and professionals by the lack of formal communication channels between hospitals and community pharmacies.
To improve communication and transfer between hospitals and community pharmacies, previous projects at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) have included signposting patients to their community pharmacies at discharge, however this proved unsuccessful.
A rapid, electronic solution was required to enable patients to get timely and tailored follow-up appointments with a community pharmacist when they leave hospital, to ensure they are taking medicines as prescribed and to provide additional advice.
The Refer-to-Pharmacy programme kicked off at ELHT in 2015 in support of the NHS Five Year Forward View’s4 call to make more appropriate use of community pharmacies to help patients get the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
The programme set out to consistently ensure that community pharmacists had eligible patients identified to them in a timely manner, to enable them to deliver various nationally commissioned services and receive a copy of the patient’s electronic discharge letter. This would help up to 20,000 patients per year.