How my pharmacist helped with my diabetes medicine

by Mike Schofield

Although my type 2 diabetes was diagnosed more than 12 years ago, it is only in the last 15 months that I have been medicated.  Prior to that, I had controlled it through diet and exercise. 

On collecting my first prescription for metformin, the pharmacist went to great pains to explain that I should take one tablet each morning and a second tablet each evening on a regular basis and to contact them immediately if I suffered any ill-effects after taking them. We also discussed dietary factors and the need for regular exercise.

The pharmacist then phoned me the following day, on the third day and after one week, to again check that I was taking the medication as prescribed, not suffering any ill-effects and had no questions about the medication.  One month later, when I collected my next prescription, the pharmacist again checked that I was following the instructions and had not suffered any ill-effects as a result of taking metformin.

For the next 12 months I collected my prescription on a regular basis until at the annual renewal the pharmacist asked that I had a consultation with him.  He then asked if I was taking the metformin as prescribed, not suffering any side effects and was following dietary advice and taking regular exercise.  He also asked me to confirm that my feet were being checked by my diabetic nurse and that I received an annual check for diabetic retinopathy.  I as able to confirm that it was the case with both.

In my opinion I have received excellent service from my local pharmacy and am most impressed at the level of care that I have received.

Medical exemption fines: could they be better spent?

by RPS England Board Chair Sandra Gidley

The Government have announced plans to strengthen checks at pharmacies for entitlement to free prescriptions in England.  Whilst we all want to see fraud stopped, I have to ask – is really the right approach?

Only patients in England can be judged to have committed prescription fraud because prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Many patients who fall foul of the medical exemption fine have simply forgotten to renew it. They only need to do this every five years, so it’s a diary date that is easy to miss. We shouldn’t label people with a serious long term condition who have forgotten to renew their medical exemption certificate as fraudsters because they have made a genuine mistake. Read more Medical exemption fines: could they be better spent?

It’s time to make the most of pharmacy in mental health

By Sandra Gidley, Chair of RPS England

People with a serious mental illness die 15-20 years earlier than on average.

They are three times as likely to lose all their teeth.

More than 16 million people in England are diagnosed with a long-term physical health condition, and more than five million of them will experience a mental health problem.

These are just some of the shocking figures that underline just how much further we have to go on the issue of mental health and the reason I was delighted to join with members, patient groups and the other health professions to mark the launch of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s new campaign on mental health in Parliament last week. Read more It’s time to make the most of pharmacy in mental health

What are the benefits of having a pharmacist in a care home?

By Sandra Gidley, Chair of RPS England

I’m delighted that NHS England, through the Pharmacy Integration Fund, have invested in creating 180 new jobs for pharmacists and 60 for technicians in care homes across the country.  There are huge benefits for residents in having a pharmacist involved in reviewing their medicines.

The average age of residents in care homes for the elderly is now 85 and they are prescribed an average of 7 or 8 medicines a day, though there are many are on more than that.  Those medicines can bring side-effects which in turn lead to loss of quality of life, so by rationalising those medicines, very often reducing the number taken, people feel better and the NHS saves money too.

Team work

Integration is a new buzzword which is the direction of travel for NHS delivery of health services. Pharmacists and technicians are a key part of the multidisciplinary team of GPs, nurses, geriatricians, and care home staff that look after residents. We need to all work together to provide residents with specialist clinical medication reviews to keep them from harm and keep them out of hospital. Here’s a great example of a care home pharmacist who is part of these reviews in the E & N Hertfordshire vanguard programme.

Residents’ relatives are also vital to such reviews and a very positive consequence is that their relationships with their loved ones often improve as a result of medication changes as the resident feels better and can be more communicative. The overall results in E&N Herts are astounding.  Since December 2015, their care home pharmacy team reviewed 1,426 residents and 13,786 medicines, stopped 2,238 unnecessary medicines including 681 with a falls risk, saved £354,498 in drug costs and an estimated £650,000 in hospital admission costs. They’ve also made a video about the way the vanguard programme was set up and the impact it had.

Challenging ourselves

By investing in pharmacists, commissioners are investing in their older, vulnerable populations and in better outcomes for patients.  By challenging ourselves to work in different ways and across traditional boundaries, we can grow as professionals, be part of a new way of working that enables us to demonstrate the benefits pharmacy can bring and deliver a better standard of care than ever before. It’s not always easy to do this, but it’s essential. Provision of services by pharmacists across settings is the game changer that NHS organisations are working towards.

Our Regional Liaison Pharmacists

RPS England has just appointed four Regional Liaison Pharmacists, who will be approaching local Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships amongst others to ensure they understand the contribution that pharmacists can make to the health needs of their local populations and so provide services that fit local needs. They will also discuss new integrated ways of working and ensure that pharmacists are part of this, including these new opportunities in care homes.

New jobs

I’ve received many requests for information about the new roles in care homes and these are still being worked on by NHS England.  I suggest keeping an eye on www.jobs.nhs.uk and of course the RPS will keep you up to date on developments.