Pharmacists must be enabled to deliver pharmaceutical care if the NHS is serious about addressing the issue of overprescribing

A new report from NHS England suggests that some patients are being overprescribed prescription medicines which could be unnecessary and even harmful. The PDA welcomes this new focus but says that pharmacists must be enabled to deliver pharmaceutical care if the NHS is serious about addressing the issue of overprescribing.

Wed 22nd September 2021 The PDA

The PDA has been raising the importance of this issue for many years, which is detailed in their “RoadMap” and “Wider than Medicines” strategic policies. PDA Chairman, Mark Koziol is also covering this in his speech at an international conference later this week.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England’s latest report outlines the serious consequences of people being prescribed too many, or the wrong combination of medicines, however, it does not go far enough in acknowledging the role that pharmacists can play in improving patients’ health and addressing this issue once and for all.

The PDA welcomes the appointment of a prescribing tzar to lead this important work. This initiative must be focused on pharmaceutical care which delivers health improvement, and should not just be about reducing the cost of medicines for the NHS.

Pharmacists should be the guardians of the NHS medicines agenda. They have the unique skills and given the right environment they have knowledge to both explain and resolve the issue of poor prescribing for the patients that they see.

However, if this initiative is to be a success, the NHS needs to ensure several additional aspects not mentioned in their announcement:

  • Make full use of the unique knowledge of a pharmacist around medicines and pharmaceutical care.
  • Ensure every pharmacy is adequately resourced so that pharmacists have the capacity to have the necessary conversations with patients.
  • Engage patient representative organisations and the wider population with a significant and effective awareness campaign.
  • Ensure that the community pharmacy contract genuinely prioritises the clinical interventions enabled by pharmaceutical care.

PDA Director of Policy, Alison Jones said: “This is an opportunity for the NHS to make a significant step forward in utilising pharmacists as the clinical professionals that they are, maximising their presence in the heart of communities. The PDA will play our part in supporting the initiative and the benefit to patients’ health that pharmacists can deliver with the right support from the NHS. As the largest pharmacist body in the UK, we look forward to working with the new tzar once they are appointed.”

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