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PJ Online | News: Minister launches Barking's medicines management project for the elderly

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The Pharmaceutical Journal
Vol 268 No 7185 p197-203
16 February 2002

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Barking and Havering health community (
Robert Gordon University (

Minister launches Barking's medicines management project for the elderly

Hazel Blears (front left) is shown details of the medicines management project by Clare Mackie (front right) and members of the collaborative team that will be evaluating the results

Hazel Blears, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, officially launched Barking and Havering Health Authority's £500,000 medicines management project on 12 February during a visit to a health centre in the area. Another 40 Department of Health funded medicines management pilots were announced the same day (see p199).

The Barking project will see community pharmacists developing care plans for elderly patients and taking responsibility for changes to their medication. The first patients are to be recruited in April and the project will run for two years.

Professor Clare Mackie, professor of pharmaceutical care at The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, will be leading a collaborative team evaluating the project. Her team includes researchers from the schools of pharmacy at Robert Gordon and London universities, the academic pharmacy practice unit at Barts and the London NHS Trust, and a PhD student from Finland. The evaluation is being supported by £240,000 from the London region of the National Health Service.

Professor Mackie is also overseeing training for pharmacists taking part in the project, which is a development of a similar scheme run by her in Glasgow (PJ, 18 September 1999, pR7). Over 40 pharmacists have been signed up. Each will have to complete a 300-hour programme based on a prescribing science course run in Aberdeen. This involves workshops and of computer-based sessions using video clips of pharmacists working with patients and should be completed in June. In total, around 1,200 patients will be recruited with the aim of at least 600 completing the project.

Pharmacists will be provided with laptop computers holding details of their patients and the care plans for them. Recommendations for changes to patients' medication will be faxed to general practitioners for approval. Care plans will be submitted electronically for evaluation.

Barking and Havering Health Authority has put up £250,000 to support community pharmacists in delivering medicines management as part of the project, which is separate from other medicines management pilots. The project will concentrate on patients aged over 65 years who are taking four or more medicines. Particular targets are cardiovascular disease, diabetes and asthma. The evaluation will look at drug related problems before and after pharmacists' interventions, expenditure in certain therapeutic areas, interactions between pharmacists and GPs, and patients' views. Evaluations will be made with respect to relevant national service framework targets.

Alan Castell, one of the pharmacists taking part, said at the launch: "The most stimulating thing about medicines management is the way in which it can be expanded to cover all our relationships with patients. It represents our entry into the primary care team and in the long term it will change the way in which pharmacy is practised."

Launching the project, Mrs Blears said that there was a real atmosphere of collaboration about the project, which she said was a tribute to the good leadership of pharmacists in the area and at the health authority.

"There has been a lot of talk about the underuse of pharmacists' skills, but I feel that we are at a turning point now. Pharmacists themselves are pushing at the boundaries." She said that it would be almost criminal not to use pharmacists' skills in this kind of project.

Hemant Patel, chairman of Barking and Havering Local Pharmaceutical Committee and one of the driving forces behind the project, welcomed the Minister's comments and said that he hoped that other health authorities would enter into dialogue with community pharmacists.

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