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Northumbria medicines project is top choice for national award

Tuesday, 09 September, 2014
Northumbria medicines project is top choice for national award

An innovative project which enabled care home residents in North Tyneside to become more involved with decisions about their medication has won a national award.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust scooped the audience choice award at the Pharmaceutical Care Awards 2014 for the project which has also reduced the amount of unnecessary medicines taken by residents. 

The audience, made up of hospital, community and industry pharmacists, praised the model and voted it the most able to be replicated elsewhere.

The project involved a team of various NHS professionals and care home nurses working with care home residents and their families to review the medication they are taking and make joint decisions about any changes.

This is the second award for the work – earlier this year it won a Patient Experience Network National Awards recognising the personalised care being delivered.

David Campbell, chief pharmacist and clinical director for medicines management at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “To be voted the overall winner from all the outstanding projects at the awards is a massive endorsement for the team and the trust.

“The audience was clearly impressed by the flexibility of our model meaning it could be adopted by anyone who prescribes medicines for patients.

“We are very proud of this project and the amazing results it has had in terms of involving care home residents in decisions about their medication and reducing the amount of unnecessary medication that is being prescribed.

“It is also a great example of partnership working across the NHS involving hospital and care home staff and GPs working together to bring about real benefits for people living in care homes in North Tyneside.”

It is common for older people living in care homes to be prescribed a large number of medications without regular review meaning residents could be taking medicines they no longer require. This leads to wastage and potential risks for patients’ safety.

The project involved clinical pharmacists from Northumbria Healthcare reviewing the appropriateness of residents’ medications with findings discussed by a multidisciplinary team including the pharmacist and a care home nurse, with input from the resident and/or their family/advocate and, where possible, a GP.

The review process helped to reduce unnecessary prescribing across care homes – for the 422 residents reviewed, 1,346 changes to medications were made, the majority of which involved stopping medicines.

These interventions helped to reduce the overall yearly medicines budget by nearly £78,000 across the project. By reducing the number of medicines staff administer, the project also released around an hour of care home nursing time per day.

Dr Wasim Baqir, research and development pharmacist at Northumbria Healthcare, who worked on the project, explained that for every £1 invested in the review process, £2.38 could be released from the medicines budget.

“There is now a huge opportunity for the NHS to optimise the medicines review process and expand this approach to all older patients, including people living in sheltered housing or in their own homes,” said Dr Baqir.

“However the part we’re most proud of is managing to give patients a voice. At Northumbria Healthcare we’re passionate about listening to our patients and in this project we’ve developed a model that really puts patients at the heart of the review process.

“Patient involvement must be seen as part of standard review practice. Not just the cherry on the cake, but an integral part of the cake itself.”

The project was one of only 30 to be awarded national funding by The Health Foundation as part of its 2012 Shine programme to improve the quality of healthcare in the UK.  

Due to the project’s success, the review process developed by the team is now planned to be adopted by care homes throughout North Tyneside.

The Pharmaceutical Care Awards were run by The Pharmaceutical Journal and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and are supported by GlaxoSmithKline.