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Pharmacists set to be drafted into dozens of A&E departments in England

Large expansion of NHS pilot project will see many more pharmacists working in emergency departments.

Pharmacists are set to work alongside emergency department staff at up to 36 A&E units across England from March 2015 in a significant expansion of an NHS pilot programme

Source: Brendan Howard /

More pharmacists will work in A&E departments as part of an NHS pilot programme

Pharmacists are set to work alongside emergency department staff at up to 36 A&E units across England from March 2015 in an expansion of an NHS pilot programme.

Health Education England (HEE) is asking Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) to seek expressions of interest from local NHS trusts to take part in the national emergency department pharmacy pilot initiative, part of NHS England’s urgent and emergency care review.

Trusts who respond to the call will join four others already signed up to the pilot, first announced in December 2014.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said having more pharmacists working in A&E departments could help to reduce pressure on emergency care.

A&E units across the UK have faced high demand this winter and four-hour waiting time targets have been routinely missed across the four nations.

The RPS in England has called for all A&E departments to incorporate a pharmacist to manage medicines-related issues as part of its urgent and emergency care campaign.

David Branford, chair of the England Pharmacy Board at the RPS, says: “Utilising the skills, expertise and accessibility of pharmacists can significantly help to alleviate some of the pressures currently being experienced in the delivery of the urgent and emergency care. The fact that there is now solid progress through these pilots in up to a further 36 hospitals is fantastic news.”

He adds: “There are huge benefits to having a pharmacist involved at all stages of the urgent care pathway, as the results of the pilot showed. It is now time to take that evidence to be more strategic and change the services on offer to the public to make best use of the NHS workforce.”

The HEE pilot will explore the potential of clinical pharmacists working as part of a multidisciplinary approach to improve emergency care.

HEE has asked 12 out of the 13 LETBs in England to each recruit between one and three hospital trusts to take part in the pilot. The concept has already been trialled in the West Midlands region. It means that between 12 and 36 pilot sites in total will be chosen to trial this approach.

Each pilot will run for five weeks, and participating employers will nominate pharmacists from their trust to take part in the pilot. Total funding available for the programme is yet to be confirmed.

Elizabeth Hughes, director of education and quality for London and the South East at HEE, said: “These pilots are designed to identify opportunities to make effective use of pharmacists’ knowledge and skills, working with other key staff in emergency departments so that patients are seen and treated safely, effectively and in a timely manner.

“HEE will be looking to build on the West Midlands work to develop enhanced roles for pharmacists in emergency departments across the country that improve patient experience and support wider efforts to reduce waiting times.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20067663

Readers' comments (4)

  • I'm a community and 111 pharmacist. How can I get involved?

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  • similar to comment above. How to get involved? I'm an indep prescriber and clinical history/physical examination trained

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  • Why hasn't this been implemented before? As a MPharm student, I'm extremely excited about the direction and integration of the pharmacy profession in hospital. Looking forward to reading about the results of this initiative.

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  • great strides and well done to all those who sacrificed their all to get the profession to this point..really you are all legends.....still if i think of the fact that drugs are used in every single area of specialisation it seems logical that a specialist pharmacist ought to be feels like some parts of the developed world are still playing catch up to what clinical pharmacists ought to be or should be utilised in...i cant wait for when the laws are changed to grant us community care pharmacists access to patients summary medical records (i have dealt with two cases in the last two days where this could have been extremely helpful, as just a clinical check on a prescription would not be sufficient and if anything more detrimental) and the present practice of having to call to find out what the summary diagnosis and rationale is costing time and money for Patients Gp and we the intervening Pharmacists. Its an archaic 20th and 21st century practice of not having access to summary care of patients that needs to be changed as quickly as possible...secondly in regards to strides for my colleagues in the clinical sector ...think about it for a second and do not judge my radical thinking here....would it seem illogical for pharmacists to even be specialist in anaesthesia? before you say i am biting more than i can chew.....think of what anaesthesia is and think where pharmacy should be heading all round......having said my case...i say again great strides and kudos to all the professionals who made this come to fruition your efforts are highly appreciated ......i think its high time with the way the NHS is going i move back into the clinical setting..i know where i will be heading specialty wise....feeling good about my profession....:)

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