Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

How useful are medicines helplines for patients discharged from hospital?



To determine the number of patient helplines provided by UK medicines information and the volume of enquiries handled per year. To review patient helpline enquiries at a single medicines Information centre and to describe the demographics of service users and determine the types of questions asked.


All UK medicines information centres were surveyed. Enquiries to a single medicines information centre in 2009 were analysed with a follow-up review in 2011 to see if amendments to the discharge letter affected the types of calls received.


Patient helplines are provided by 102 (55%) out of 184 UK medicines information centres. They answer up to 23,000 enquiries annually. The patient helpline at a single medicines information centre received 312 calls in one year involving 413 questions. Most commonly enquiries involved patients aged over 65 years and patients’ carers made 30 per cent of the calls. The most common reason for contacting the helpline was a lack of appropriate information in the discharge letter (24%; n=98) which decreased to 7% (n=32/475) after amendments were made to the discharge letter two years later. Many patients asked about drug interactions (n=47, 11%) or reported and sought advice for, an adverse drug event (n=43, 10%).


More than half of medicines Information centres provide patient helplines in the UK and answer thousands of patients’ questions about medicines each year. Patient helplines support medicines optimisation by ensuring patients have easy access to pharmacy experts to discuss concerns about their medicines and improve the quality of their pharmaceutical care.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11135512

Readers' comments (1)

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Patient Care in Community Practice

    Patient Care in Community Practice

    Patient Care in Community Practice is a unique, practical guide for healthcare professionals or carers. Covers a range of non-medicinal products suitable for use at home.

    £21.00Buy now
  • Drugs in Use

    Drugs in Use

    Optimise drug therapy for your patients. These case studies help you bridge the gap between theoretical medicines knowledge and practical applications.

    £42.00Buy now
  • Sport and Exercise Medicine for Pharmacists

    Sport and Exercise Medicine for Pharmacists

    All the information you need to provide patients with evidence-based advice on sports and exercise related health matters.

    £26.00Buy now
  • Drugs and the Liver

    Drugs and the Liver

    Drugs and the Liver assists practitioners in making pragmatic choices for their patients. It enables you to assess liver function and covers the principles of drug use in liver disease.

    £37.00Buy now
  • Introduction to Renal Therapeutics

    Introduction to Renal Therapeutics

    Introduction to Renal Therapeutics covers all aspects of drug use in renal failure. Shows the role of the pharmacist in patient care for chronic kidney disease.

    £37.00Buy now
  • Strategic Medicines Management

    Strategic Medicines Management

    A practical guide to influencing the availability of medicines, and policies of their use. Focuses on the strategic elements of medicines management.

    £32.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary information

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.