Medicines optimisation in England

Heidi Wright

by Heidi Wright, Practice and Policy Lead for RPS England.

Helping patients get the best out of their medicines is one of the most important things a pharmacist can do. Earlier this year the Royal Pharmaceutical Society published guidance for pharmacists and other healthcare professionals in England to help them do this.

Helping patients make the most of their medicines: Good practice guidance for healthcare professionals in England’ contains four main principles of what is known in profession as ‘medicines optimisation’:

1. Aim to understand the patient’s experience
2. Evidence based choice of medicine
3. Ensure medicines use is as safe as possible
4. Make medicines optimisation part of routine practice

To help pharmacists to apply these principles in everyday practice we are launching five briefings on medicines optimisation for pharmacists that work in community, hospital, industrial, academic and research settings.

These briefings will make suggestions about how you could improve your practice to focus more on helping patients to get the best outcomes from their medicines. There are also some pointers which support you to reflect on how you are applying the principles of medicines optimisation to your practice.

Pharmacists, as a profession, are unique in that they see the medicine across the whole of its journey from development to supply to the patient. However, medicines optimisation means that the pathway doesn’t stop when the medicine is dispensed and supplied to the patient, but considers how patients use their medicines in practice, including short and long term outcomes.

Early next year we aim to publish more briefings for pharmacists on a number of different illnesses and are currently developing these in collaboration with the training organisation the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education and relevant patient groups.

We are also working hard at a strategic level with NHS England, NHS Improving Quality and NICE to get medicines optimisation adopted across the NHS. An important part of this is looking at how the contract that pharmacists work to might change to enable them to spend more time focusing on helping patients get the most out of their medicines.

After staffing costs, medicines are the second biggest spend by the NHS – around £13.8 billion pounds a year. All health professionals need to support patients with their medicines so we will be working with other professional bodies, Royal Colleges, social care organisations and employers to ensure every avenue is fully explored to provide better patient care.

Please check out our resources on Medicines Optimisation – we all need to continually examine how we can improve patient care.