5 March 2020

A national NHS Discharge Medicines Service has been launched by the Department of Health and Social Care which builds on award-winning work in Cheshire and Merseyside.

The service gives patients extra guidance on new prescribed medicines after being discharged from hospital.

Patients who could benefit from additional support after hospital discharge will be digitally referred to community pharmacists to ease pressures on A&E and general practice.

The new national service builds on the success of local programmes including Transfer of Care Around Medicines (TCAM), which has been rolled out in the North West Coast through the Innovation Agency and NHS England and within other regions through the AHSN Network. TCAM enables patients leaving hospital to be referred to their community pharmacist for extra support with their prescriptions.

A recent audit of NHS hospital discharges showed that 79 per cent of patients were prescribed at least one new medication after being discharged from hospital. New prescriptions can sometimes cause side effects, or interact with existing treatments, potentially leading to readmission.

Thanks to an award-winning collaboration between the Innovation Agency and NHS England in Cheshire and Merseyside, TCAM has seen the widest spread and fastest adoption in the North West Coast. All 635 community pharmacies in Cheshire and Merseyside are participating in the initiative, along with 11 hospitals and two mental health trusts. TCAM is estimated to have saved the NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside over 12,500 bed days to date, equivalent to £25 million, as well as improving patient care.

Una Harding, a pharmacist at Day Lewis Pharmacy in Aintree, explained: “We now get notifications on our system on a daily basis. It’s a platform we use every day. New discharges or referrals are the first thing you see when you log on. If we see a patient has recently been in hospital we can make a note to speak to them about their medication when they next come in.

“Patients now understand we can deliver more for them. There’s a culture now where people are realising that their GP doesn’t always have to be the first port of call. They know now that if they come into the pharmacy we can talk to them about the changes to their medication."

The Innovation Agency, NHS England Local Pharmacy Network and Aintree University Hospital, part of Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, were named joint winners of the PrescQIPP award for developing or working across health and care boundaries, in recognition of their work on TCAM in Aintree.

Dr Phil Jennings, Innovation Agency Medical Director, said: “We welcome the announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care of the NHS Discharge Medicines Service. This initiative will build on our earlier TCAM work where we have shown that by improving the discharge information flows between hospital and community pharmacy, errors, harm and readmission can all be reduced.

“This work is a great example of what can be achieved when professionals across different parts of the system work together towards a common goal. I am very proud of the results.

“Special acknowledgement should be made to the hard working teams of pharmacists in hospital and community pharmacies who have worked so hard to ensure the service works well for their patients.”

Read more about TCAM in Cheshire and Merseyside in our case study.

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