Lord Carter’s review of NHS operational productivity in the areas of mental health and community health services has found that pharmacy is underused.

The review identifies unwarranted variation in the delivery of mental health and community health services, as well as potential savings of nearly £1 billion that could be made in efficiencies by 2020/21.

Welcoming the report, RPS English Pharmacy Board chair Sandra Gidley called for pharmacists to be better integrated into care pathways to support patients with mental health conditions.

“Every mental health team should have access to a specialist mental health pharmacist, whether the team is based in the community, in a mental health hospital or in an acute hospital,” she said.

Ms Gidley believes community pharmacy's new medicine service should be extended to cover all long-term conditions including mental health medicines so that more patients can benefit in a structured way from the support a pharmacist can offer.

Furthermore, greater use of pharmacist prescribers, as the review suggests, combined with access to patient records would also improve efficiency and significantly increase patient access to medicines support. “Workforce planning should also take into account the new and emerging roles of pharmacist prescribers.”

More resources are required for the existing pharmacist workforce to undertake advanced clinical skills and qualify as independent prescribers, she added.

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