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NHS

Half of hospital trusts to refer to community pharmacy by 2020

Exclusive: According to the Academic Health Science Networks, the Transfers of Care Around Medicines programme will save the NHS £28.8m in 2019/2020, based on reduced hospital stays and fewer readmissions.

NHS England has commissioned the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN) to roll out its Transfers of Care Around Medicines (TCAM) programme to 50% of trusts in England by the end of 2020.

The programme, which was first piloted in 2014 and now runs in several NHS trusts across England, connects hospital and community pharmacy IT systems, enabling hospital trusts to send online messages to community pharmacists through PharmOutcomes to identify patients who may need extra help taking new medicines after leaving hospital.

According to the AHSN website, the TCAM programme will save the NHS £28.8m in 2019/2020, based on a reduction in length of hospital stay “of 113,406 days and 2,007 fewer readmissions”.

Clare Howard, clinical lead for medicines optimisation at Wessex AHSN, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that, while TCAM has been launched in some trusts in each of the 15 AHSN networks across England, NHS England has commissioned AHSN “to ensure that [TCAM] is up and running in 50% of trusts” by 2020.

Clare Howard, clinical lead for medicines optimisation at Wessex AHSN

Source: Clare Howard

According to Clare Howard, clinical lead for medicines optimisation at Wessex AHSN, 55,000 patients have been referred to community pharmacy by hospitals after discharge in the past year

“Obviously what happens after [the 2020 deadline] is up to NHS England because they commissioned us to deliver this roll-out so it may be that we go a bit further.

“We’ll have to wait and see what is in the community pharmacy contract to know what the future holds,” she added.

Howard went on to explain that NHS trusts involved with the scheme use a “message broker … that sucks out the data that’s just related to [patient] medicines” and sends this “through PharmOutcomes to the community pharmacy”.

“The pharmacies are told to look on PharmOutcomes about once a day just to check whether they’ve had any referrals,” she added.

She added that the technology behind TCAM is “linked” to guidance published by the Professional Record Standards Body on 29 April 2019, which establishes how pharmacists, hospitals and GPs should record data about patients’ medicines so that it can be shared between care settings.

According to Howard, 55,000 patients have been referred to community pharmacy by hospitals after discharge in the past year, of which 33,000 have been acted on by a community pharmacy.

A study of TCAM during its pilot in two hospital sites at Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust covering 207 pharmacies in Newcastle found that 2,029 patients were referred over a 13-month period in 2014 and 2015, with 31% of these patients followed up for a consultation in community pharmacy.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206557

Readers' comments (2)

  • The way things are going, there may not be any pharmacies left for these Hospital Trusts to make referrals to.

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  • I wonder if the 55,000 referrals include the 10000+ made from East Lancashire Hospitals using the Refer-to-Pharmacy system; or is this exclusive of the Lancashire figure?

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