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Patients need more help with medicine, say experts

Up to 50% of patients don’t take medicine as prescribed

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 02 May 2013

Healthcare professionals should provide patients with more help with their medicines, according to a report launched today.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has published Medicines Optimisation: helping patients make the most of medicines, providing four guiding principles to help front-line professionals in England support patients to improve their quality of life and outcomes from better use of medicines.

The four principles include: aiming to understand the patient’s experience, making sure choice of medicine is made on the best available evidence, ensuring medicines use is as safe as possible and making medicines optimisation part of routine practice.

Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England, said: “This important document represents a collaboration between patients and the health professionals that care for them. It sets out four simple but important principles of “medicines optimisation” that could revolutionise medicines use and outcomes.”

Shilpa Gohil, Chair of RPS England said: “As care shifts towards primary care prevention, unprecedented economic challenges combined with problems around medicines waste, adherence and safety mean that medicines optimisation is now essential to good patient care and the effective use of NHS resources.

“The primary aim of medicines optimisation is maximising value; the value that a patient derives from their medicines and the value resulting from the £13.8 billion spent on medicines by the NHS in England every year.

“Medicines optimisation will require health professionals to work across boundaries to individualise care and work in partnership with each other and patients to secure better outcomes and drive improved adherence.“

Commenting on the importance of the report, Martin Astbury, RPS President explained: “An estimated 30-50% of patients don’t take their medicines as prescribed and this situation can no longer continue. The ill-health, poor quality of life, loss of productivity and waste of NHS resources that results is simply unacceptable.

“Pharmacists want to work with other primary care professionals on medicines optimisation and have experience in motivating patients to get most benefit from their medicines. Initial data from the New Medicine Service , run through community pharmacies, shows a third of patients who weren’t taking their medicines properly before taking part in the service started doing so afterwards.  

“I’d like to see pharmacists play a much bigger role in monitoring and supporting patients with a wide range of long-term conditions. As the most frequent users of health services, accounting for 50% of all GP appointments and 70% of the primary and acute care budget in England, better use of medicines is absolutely critical to this group of patients.”

The report was developed with health professionals, patients, lay representatives and patient groups and its principles endorsed by NHS England, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Nursing and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

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