All care homes need a pharmacist, says new report

The NHS could save £135m if a pharmacist had responsibility for the whole system of medicines and their use within each care home, according to a new report by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

The Right Medicine – Improving Care in Care Homes concludes that pharmacist-led medicine reviews in care homes can not only improve safety for elderly care home residents but also save the NHS money by preventing avoidable hospital admissions.

Responding to the report’s findings, the RPS and Alzheimer’s Society, Patients Association and Care England have called for a pharmacist, as part of the healthcare team, to take charge of the whole system of medicines and their use within a care home to improve patient care, reduce the waste of NHS medicines and prevent the serious harm that can be caused by inappropriate medicines use in elderly residents.

Sandra Gidley, chair of the RPS English Board, said: “Care home residents take an average of seven medicines a day with some taking double or treble this amount. The number of drugs prescribed by hospital, community and out of hours care for multiple conditions can quickly mount up.

"Without a regular review of what’s still needed, this cocktail of drugs can cause poor health, a lower quality of life and costly unnecessary admissions to hospital.”

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