Recent reports indicate that the NHS spent £17.4 billion on medicines in 2016/17. That’s nearly 20% of the total spending budget, therefore you would think that ensuring medicine optimisation and medicine management best practices are a priority. After all, providing medicines in optimal condition ensures patients receive the maximum benefit from their medication.
According to the General Pharmaceutical Council, one of the challenges in future will be how we support a system-wide approach to medicines optimisation – putting governance frameworks in place and supporting local pharmacy leaders to help people and the NHS get the most health benefit and the best value from medicines.
The problem for the hard-working pharmacist is that these phrases and words are too broad and fail to reflect what’s going on at the coal face. The real challenge is how to infer clear leadership and guidance from this rather woolly mission statement.
At least there is one thing we can all agree on: it is the expertise and clinical knowledge of pharmacists which can achieve this. However, to imply they can relieve the pressures within primary care and provide simultaneously the skills needed to enable system-wide medicines optimisation is a tall order.
Having personally met with and discussed the pressures pharmacists face, they struggle to meet their current workload.
They should be, but recent CQC inspections indicate a worrying trend to poor quality controls applied to stored medicines. Also, a recent report highlighted the growing trend for GPs to work part-time and, against funding cuts in community pharmacy, this is hardly a firm footing on which to present leadership at it best.
CQC are now increasing inspections of GP practices and clinical providers, and published reports indicate that focus on medicine management and optimisation is often truly shocking.
One report extract reads as follows:
“We found that the maximum temperature for one refrigerator had been consistently recorded at 17oC since August 2017 and the maximum temperature of a second refrigerator had been recorded at 9oC in March and April 2018 and at 14oC on numerous occasions in November 2017. Staff responsible for recording the temperatures had failed to act and report that the temperatures had fallen outside the recommended range of 2oC and 8oC.”
To ensure that every patient receives the expected benefit from their medication, there must be a commitment to the correct storage, management and optimisation of medicines. This process must be shared and not lumped solely onto the pharmacist. While he or she is accountable, the responsibility must be shared equally, and this is currently not the case.
Pharmacovigilance should drive quality improvement and patient safety, but front-line staff just don’t have the time to take responsibility, or they lack strong leadership.
The Government asked NHS England to set out a long-term plan for the future of the NHS by the autumn Budget 2018. At the start of this process, NHS asked people to contribute their ideas, experiences and insights.
This was published on a web page on the NHS England consultation page on the 24th of August 2018 and closed on the 30th September.
4 questions were asked of Digital Innovation:
I believe these questions not only failed to address the management and optimisation of medicines but also gave the industry only 5 weeks to respond to a highly complex and important issue. I’m not sure if I were a Pharmacist that this addressed my needs or provided the clear leadership I might seek.
The simple answer is yes, but simple monitoring is only half of the solution. To change health outcomes, monitoring must be supported by active contact systems where staff responsible for medicine management are notified immediately by trained independent individuals of a failing fridge or freezer so they can act, before the damage is done.
The storage of vaccines, bloods, insulin and a range of medicines don’t just become inactive, they can become outright dangerous if used, putting lives at risk.
But the sheer commercial cost of medicine loss can be avoided, protecting margins and helping to reduce the cost of medicines for your organisation. In the case of the NHS this has been identified as a key targeted improvement area such is the incredible size of the medicine bill each year.
Tutela is the world’s largest independent healthcare and life science temperature monitoring and data insights platform for critical process control of temperature sensitive biological inventory and products.
Tutela have supplied 1000’s of systems to the NHS, Biotech and Pharmaceutical industries as well as research facilities such as the APHA (Defra).
Tutela’s technology can remotely monitor every fridge or freezer door, temperature, ambient and humidity. In every room, ward, department, hospital or remote clinic all under one account. Protected, secure with full reporting and action audit trail.
With clear leadership and independent monitoring of the healthcare and drug development activity, together Tutela aim to Improve health outcomes, protect reputations and support the pharmacist and his team.
We protect your business or organisation from catastrophic loss and damage which cannot be recovered.