NHS England to recruit more care home pharmacists

NHS England has announced plans to recruit more clinical pharmacists and pharmacy technicians into care homes to improve the care of residents, cut hospital stays and reduce over-medication.

The decision is part of an NHS England £20 million programme which aims to recruit more clinical experts in a bid to improve the health of care home residents, who are often over-prescribed medicines.

Care home residents are prescribed on average seven medicines a day, with many taking 10 or more, which is costing the NHS around £250 million every year. Moreover, many people are concerned that elderly residents are being subjected to a ‘chemical cosh’.

Care home residents account for around 250,000 emergency hospital admissions, but as much as 40 per cent of these are considered to be avoidable through actions such as stopping over-medication.

As a spokesman for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society commented, the NHS Long Term Plan is funding expert pharmacy teams across the country to give tailored advice and extra support staff to increase the safety and quality of older people’s care homes. He added that too many patients are being prescribed medicines they may no longer need or may need adjusting, so pharmacy experts should be able to prevent this.

The Chair of the RPS in England, Sandra Gidley, welcomed NHS England’s plans, saying that the inclusion of pharmacy professionals in the care home workforce has been proven to cut medication errors and make savings for the NHS, which ultimately benefits patient care and safety.