On 24th November, the Trust, together with Bolton CCG and the Local Pharmaceutical Committee, launched a new discharge medicines service (DMS) which aims to reduce medicines related problems when a patient is discharged from hospital.
A new referral process will act as an additional safety net and see improved communication between the Royal Bolton Hospital, GPs and community pharmacies, with community pharmacies receiving details of changes to prescribed medication for patients following a hospital stay.
An estimated 60% of patients who are admitted to hospital have three or more changes made to medications that they are taking, and only 10% of older patients are discharged home on the same medicines that they were taking when they were admitted to hospital. This is associated with an increased risk of medicines related problems and therefore potential harm to the patient after discharge.
Louise Gatley, Chief Officer for Bolton Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said:
“The DMS will allow community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to make a real difference by helping their patients with their medicines following discharge from hospital. Questions often arise about changes to their prescriptions, which medicines they need to take and when, and about any new treatments they’ve been given.
“It’s also an opportunity to improve working across pharmacy: between community, primary care network, general practice and hospital pharmacy teams, which should result in improved patient care.”
The Department of Health and Social Care set up a review in December 2018 to develop recommendations to reduce overprescribing, which is where people are given medicines they don’t need or want, or which may do them harm.
Published in September 2021, the review found that overprescribing is a serious problem in health systems internationally, and can result in more hospital visits, preventable admissions, and even premature death. In addition, there is the cost of wasted medicines, with an estimate that at least 10% of the total number of prescription items in primary care need not have been issued.
“This project has been a really innovative piece of work and fits in perfectly with the findings of the government review.
“We’ve made improvements to our electronic patient record system and created a really efficient referral process which informs community pharmacies when a patient is admitted to hospital. This allows them to put any repeat prescriptions on hold.
“They are also sent updated lists of medications when a patient is discharged home which was previously only sent to the patient’s GP. Keeping everyone in the loop will improve the transfer of care from hospital to community, and enhance patient safety, helping ensure patients are taking their medication correctly.”
The new discharge medicines service will see greater collaboration between different care providers and more effective team-working. Through better communication it will also reduce the number of patients readmitted to hospital due to medicines-related problems, helping to ease overall pressure on the healthcare system.
Stephen Liversedge, Clinical Director for Primary Care Development and Health Improvement, said:
“The strong relationship between the CCG, GP practices, community pharmacies and the hospital has resulted in an enhancement to this service that will ultimately benefit people who have been admitted to hospital and subsequently discharged.
“Often people who are admitted to hospital are already on medication, which can change while they are being treated. This service should alert everyone involved in the care of the individual to ensure they receive the correct medication on their return home and in a timely manner.”