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Found 88 results
  1. News Article
    Certain cough medicines sold behind the counter at pharmacies are being withdrawn over safety concerns. Health experts say there is a very rare chance that some people could experience an allergic reaction linked to an ingredient called pholcodine. People should check the packaging of any cough tablets or syrups they have at home to see if pholcodine is listed among the ingredients. If it is, talk to your pharmacist about taking a different medicine. Products containing pholcodine do not need a prescription, but cannot be bought without consultation with the pharmacist as they are kept behind the counter. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) described removing the products from sale as a precautionary measure. Read full story Source: BBC News. 15 March 2023
  2. News Article
    A cross-border trial has improved care for patients prescribed multiple medicines. The iSIMPATHY project, funded by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, worked with professionals in Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to comprehensively review patient medication. Taking multiple medicines can be problematic if the increased risk of harm from interactions between drugs, or between drugs and diseases, outweighs the intended benefits. Interim findings showed these interventions potentially prevented major organ failure, adverse drug reactions, avoided hospital admissions and saw patients moved to more appropriate medication. Scotland’s Public Health Minister Maree Todd said: “This project looked at some of our most vulnerable patients taking more than five medications. The reviews have avoided adverse combinations of drugs and hospitalisations while also reducing prescriptions and drugs costs. “We will know more when the full evaluation is published in June, we will work with partners to see how we can these improvements can be applied more widely, potentially saving lives and money.” Read full story Source: Scottish Government, 10 March 2023
  3. News Article
    Pharmacies do not have the capacity to absorb pressure from GPs unless it comes with additional funding, pharmacy leaders have warned. A new NHS England ad campaign, announced earlier this week, aims to redirect patients from GP practices to local pharmacies for minor conditions such as coughs, aches, cystitis and colds. But community pharmacy negotiating body PSNC has spoken out against the campaign calling it ‘deeply concerning’, ‘irresponsible, ‘extremely unhelpful’ and ‘irritating’. Malcom Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) said: ‘Community pharmacies are often the best place for patient to go for help with minor health concerns. ‘However the current situation that many pharmacies find themselves, with a 30% cut in real term funding, the NHS recruiting their pharmacists and technicians to work in general practice and with the continuing increase in the number of medicines prescribed, will mean that there is now a very real risk that when patients visit a pharmacy, they will be faced by exhausted teams and longer than expected waiting times. ‘The NHS policy of moving asking patients to visit their local pharmacy does not address the problem of delays to access in primary care, it simply moves it from one pressurized location to another. The NHS must address the chronic underfunding of primary care, and of pharmacy in particular, if patients are to be able to access the care they need and should rightly expect.’ Read full story Source: Pulse, 28 February 2023
  4. News Article
    Experts are assessing a very rare but potentially serious brain side effect of nasal decongestants bought on the High Street. Ones containing pseudoephedrine are being reviewed because they may cause vessels supplying the brain to contract or spasm, reducing blood flow. The concern is this could lead to seizures and even a stroke. However, drug regulators stress the likelihood of this happening is extremely low. The UK-wide review for pseudoephedrine was initiated after regulators in France alerted European drugs regulator the EMA, which is also conducting a review, about some recent, rare cases. Experts say anyone with concerns about medication should speak to a doctor or pharmacist. Read full story Source: BBC News, 23 February 2023
  5. News Article
    Rising numbers of patients in England are failing to collect their medicines or asking pharmacists which ones they can “do without” because they cannot afford prescription charges, a survey shows. NHS prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England there are exemptions for certain items, medical conditions and specific parts of the population, but most adults have to pay. The current prescription charge is £9.35 an item. “We are deeply concerned that people are having to make choices about their health based on their ability to pay,” said Thorrun Govind, a pharmacist and chair of English pharmacy board of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), which conducted the survey. “No one should have to make choices about rationing their medicines and no one should be faced with a financial barrier to getting the medicines they need.” The findings, from a survey of 269 pharmacies, prompted the RPS to renew its call for patients with long-term conditions in England to get free prescriptions. Charges create a financial barrier to accessing medicines needed to stay well, it said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 13 February 2023
  6. Event
    This Westminster Health Forum conference will focus on next steps for pharmacy services in healthcare delivery, and opportunities to develop the role of community pharmacy as part of the health service in England. It comes amidst proposals to increase prescribing powers for pharmacists and reform training to enable pharmacists to work as independent prescribers immediately following graduation, as well as the Health Secretary announcing additional pharmacy services within the Primary Care Recovery Plan, and also indicating that implementation of a Pharmacy First system in England is being considered. The conference takes place against the backdrop of an evolving healthcare landscape, including developments in integrated care systems and digital transformation, an expected update to the NHS Long Term Plan, and wider strategic initiatives to implement alternatives to medicine, such as the Overprescribing Review. We expect discussion on opportunities to develop pharmacy services as a key component of future NHS and community care delivery. It will include keynote sessions with Gisela Abbam, Chair, General Pharmaceutical Council; Andrew Lane, Chair, National Pharmacy Association; Matthew Armstrong, Senior Manager, Pharmacy Contracts and Project Developments, Walgreens Boots Alliance; and a senior speaker confirmed from the Professional Record Standards Body. Overall, areas for discussion include: strategic ambitions: the opportunity for a Pharmacy First scheme in England - long-term aims for pharmacy services in the context of an updated NHS Long Term Plan. community pharmacy: future role in improvements to key service areas such as general practice, primary care and the ambulance service - delivering medicine optimisation in community care. the workforce: priorities for upskilling - improving training to increase the number of independent prescribers and develop the services that pharmacists can offer. digital pharmacy: key areas for expansion - supporting efficiency in prescription management - potential for digital services to allow patients more control over their care. further development areas: social prescribing services and non-medical treatments - the NHS STOMP programme - structured medicine reviews to support reduction of overprescribing. Register
  7. News Article
    An NHS trust has introduced pharmacy changes to help patients who are medically fit to leave hospital sooner. Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is focusing on getting TTOs (drugs To Take Out) to the pharmacy by 13:00 GMT each day. It says this reduces the length of stay for patients by several hours and can release up to 20 beds a day. "That's 20 people not waiting in the emergency department," said medical director, Professor Mark Pietroni. The plan has been called 'Early Meds to Release Beds' by the trust. Patients whose TTOs are with the pharmacy by 13:00 GMT are usually discharged about four hours later. Read full story Source: BBC News, 20 January 2023
  8. News Article
    Pupils should learn what health problems they must not bother the NHS with, doctors and pharmacists have said. In a new strategy paper they call for a “wholesale cultural shift” towards more self-care, insisting this could both empower patients and reduce demand. Conditions like lower back pain, the common cold and acute sinusitis can generally be treated without the need for GPs or hospital visits, experts said. They called for the national curriculum to include requirements for both primary and secondary pupils to be taught to treat and manage common health problems at home. Medical students or pharmacists could go into school to offer lessons on “self-care techniques and signposting to appropriate use of NHS services”, they said. The paper is from the Self-Care Strategy Group, a coalition of pharmacy bodies and GP and patient groups. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 9 January 2023
  9. News Article
    A shortage of cough and cold medicines in the UK is a result of ministers’ “lack of planning”, according to pharmacy leaders. Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives were accused of “being in denial” as supply chain problems worsen, with pharmacists reporting shortages of once-common cold and flu medicines. The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said throat lozenges, cough mixtures and some painkillers are among the affected medicines, after issues with the supply of antibiotics and HRT last year. “Pharmacists are struggling to obtain the very basic, most common cold and flu medicine,” chief executive Leyla Hannbeck told the PA news agency. “This isn’t just the branded medicines, it is also simple things like throat lozenges, cough mixtures or painkillers – particularly the ones that are soluble. “The demand has been high because this season we’ve seen higher cases of colds and flu and people are obviously trying very hard to look after themselves and making sure that they use the relevant products to manage the symptoms. “And that has led to a shortage of these products in terms of us not being able to obtain them.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 4 January 2023
  10. News Article
    Almost one in four people have bought medicine online or at a pharmacy to treat their illness after failing to see a GP face to face, according to a UK survey underlining the rise of do-it-yourself treatment. Nearly one in five (19%) have gone to A&E seeking urgent medical treatment for the same reason, the research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats shows. One in six (16%) people agreed when asked by the pollsters Savanta ComRes if the difficulty of getting an in-person family doctor appointment meant they had “carried out medical treatment on yourself or asked somebody else who is not a medical professional to do so”. Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said delays and difficulty in accessing GP appointments constituted a national scandal, and face-to-face GP appointments had become “almost extinct” in some areas of the country. He said: “We now have the devastating situation where people are left treating themselves or even self-prescribing medication because they can’t see their local GP.” Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in England, said: “While self-care and consulting other services such as pharmacies and NHS 111 will often be the right thing to do for many minor health conditions, it is worrying if patients feel forced into inappropriate courses of action because they are struggling to book an appointment for an issue that requires the attention of a GP or a member of practice staff.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 January 2023
  11. News Article
    England’s network of community pharmacies is “close to collapse”, with serious consequences for millions of patients, industry leaders have warned. In a letter sent to Steve Barclay, the health secretary, they cautioned that “as a sector we are now at a fork in the road”, and urged him to “make a critical choice about the role you want pharmacies to play”. The government has said it wants to make more use of community pharmacies in England to ease pressures on GP surgeries and accident and emergency departments. But the letter argues that funding cuts over the past seven years makes this goal unrealistic. It warns: “Many pharmacies are now dispensing at a loss and facing a serious cashflow crisis which we fear if not addressed, will rapidly move towards many permanent closures. We fear that once they start, closures will be hard to stop, as the sector is now so fragile other pharmacies would struggle to pick up the slack. “We are deeply concerned that this will put medicine supply at risk — with serious consequences for the millions of people who rely on dispensed prescriptions every year.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 23 December 2022
  12. News Article
    Three more children have died from strep A, it has emerged, and pharmacists in the UK have been told they can supply alternative antibiotics to those originally prescribed, in a bid to ease shortages of certain forms of penicillin. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows at least 19 children have now died across the UK, while there are 7,750 cases of scarlet fever so far this season. This is more than treble the 2,538 at the same point in the year during the last comparably high season in 2017 to 2018. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued serious shortage protocols (SSPs) for three penicillin medicines amid increased demand for the antibiotics. Pharmacists and GPs in the UK have faced serious difficulties in securing supplies of penicillin and amoxycillin, antibiotics used to treat infections including strep A. As a result, parents have reported having to visit a string of pharmacies to obtain medicines prescribed for their sick children, while the price of some antibiotics has risen sharply – a situation pharmacists say has left them facing losses. The health minister Will Quince said: “The increased demand for the antibiotics prescribed to treat strep A has meant some pharmacists have been unable to supply the medicine shown on the prescription. “These serious shortage protocols will allow pharmacists to supply an alternative form of penicillin, which will make things easier for them, patients, and GPs. “We are taking decisive action to address these temporary issues and improve access to these medicines by continuing to work with manufacturers and wholesalers to speed up deliveries, bring forward stock they have to help ensure it gets to where it’s needed, and boost supply to meet demand as quickly as possible.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 December 2022
  13. News Article
    Pharmacists say supplies of key antibiotics to treat strep A have "gone from bad to worse" in the past week. The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP) said the situation was "unacceptable" and it was time for the government to get a plan in place. Four antibiotics, which treat different conditions, have been added to a list of products that the UK cannot export. The UK government says it is working urgently with manufacturers and wholesalers to speed up deliveries. However, Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the AIMP, which represents 4,000 pharmacies in the UK, said the supply of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections including strep A and scarlet fever was "very poor". She said the problem had been highlighted a week ago, but it was now getting worse, making it very difficult to get hold of any antibiotics. "People are having to go from one pharmacy to another - it's chaos," she said. "Supplies are not coming through to us and it feels like no-one cares." Read full story Source: BBC News, 14 December 2022
  14. News Article
    Scarlet fever cases have surged by tenfold in a year, official data shows, as pharmacists grapple with a shortage of antibiotics during a Strep A outbreak. Strep A bacteria usually only causes mild illness, including scarlet fever and strep throat, which is treated with antibiotics. But in rare cases, it can progress into a potentially life-threatening disease if it gets into the bloodstream. Infections are higher than normal for this time of year, and at least nine children have died after contracting the bacteria in recent weeks. Pharmacists say they are struggling to get their hands on antibiotics to treat Strep A infections – despite the government insisting there is no shortage. “We are worried because we are having to turn patients away,” said Dr Leyla Hannbeck, the head of the Association of Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP). Read more Source: The Independent, 8 December 2022
  15. Content Article
    Each NHS Trust and local pharmacies in Dorset have been promoting awareness and providing updates for staff and patients on medications without harm and medicines safety following World Patient Safety Day in September. On Monday 17 October we held a face-to-face event to share learning from medicines incidents and to specifically focus on the safety improvement programme to reduce harm from opiate drugs in our communities. This provided an excellent opportunity to network with other healthcare professionals. Speakers on the day were: Head of Medicines Improvement at NHS Dorset who set the scene for the morning with facts and figures for discussion. Clinical Lead for the Wessex Academic Health Science Network Polypharmacy programme provided an update on the wider safety improvement work. Patient Safety Specialist with NHS Dorset presented a patient story of a person that died following accidental fatal intoxication with liquid morphine. Deputy Chief Pharmacist at Dorset County Hospital (DCH) and long serving Medicines Safety officer in Dorset shared the improvement work that has taken place in DCH in relation to opiate prescribing on discharge. Dr Sarah Kay, GP lead for Patient Safety with NHS Dorset, concluded the morning with a facilitated discussion session to share best practice and consider how organisations can work together to improve medicines safety. Attendees included Primary Care Network (PCN) pharmacists, hospital trust pharmacists, NHSD patient safety teams, medicines optimisation team, primary care team, AHSNs. In Dorset we prescribe almost double the volume of liquid opioids to patients in our hospitals when compared with others in our region. This increases the risk of prolonged prescribing in primary care, which can lead to long-term tolerance and dependency, and contributes to nearly 700 patients requesting multiple liquid opioid prescriptions each month for chronic non-cancer pain. This prescribing is having a disproportionate impact on women between 40 and 60 years of age and in more deprived areas of our county. At the event, we heard from some acute trusts and PCN colleagues who are having success in reducing opiate usage and promoting safe pain management strategies for people, as well as from the Wessex AHSN who can support ongoing improvement programmes. The morning was compered by NHS Dorset Patient Safety Partner (volunteer lay role) Simon Wraw who ensured the patient perspective was part of our discussions. The opportunity to meet face to face with colleagues was really valuable, as well as making new counterpart connections for each professional group. Feedback from attendees was positive and we hope to run a similar event in the future with a different topic focus. On the topic of networking, we have also contributed to the setup of the NHSE South West GP Quality Network. A scoping meeting was held in October to co-produce a plan for the network with participants. We hope to build the network, so if you work in any patient safety role across the South West and have an interest in general practice and connecting with colleagues to share good ideas and troubleshoot problems together please get in touch. The next network meeting will be 22 February 2023. Please email england.swqualityhub@nhs.net for an invite. Further reading See our recent Patient Safety Spotlight interview with Sarah and Jaydee.
  16. Event
  17. News Article
    Shortages and rising costs of medicines could result in patients not receiving important prescriptions, community pharmacists have warned. Commonly prescribed drugs used to treat conditions such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure and mental health are among those affected. The Department of Health (DoH) said a support package worth £5.3m for the sector is being finalised. But Community Pharmacy NI said this "falls way short of what is needed". David McCrea from Dundela Pharmacy said the price of some medicines had been raised "fiftyfold". "As a community pharmacist for over 30 years, I have never witnessed the price of medicines rise this sharply," Mr McCrea said. "It is becoming increasingly hard for us to afford to buy the medicines from wholesalers because we are not being paid the full cost of these drugs by the department." Mr McCrea added the current situation was causing "financial stress" and was becoming unsustainable. "The bottom line is that we are now facing the situation where we will not be able to afford to supply our patients with essential medicines, within weeks." Read full story Source: BBC News, 18 October 2022
  18. News Article
    Doctors have criticised new health secretary Therese Coffey over reports that pharmacists will be allowed to prescribe antibiotics without the approval of a doctor. According to The Times, Ms Coffey’s “Plan for Patients” will give pharmacists the power to prescribe certain drugs, such as contraception, without a prescription in an effort to reduce the need for GP appointments and tackle waiting lists. Responding to reports of the plans, Rachel Clarke, an NHS palliative care doctor and writer, wrote on Twitter: “This is staggeringly irresponsible of Therese Coffey and will cause so much more harm than good. “Doctors do not – unlike Coffey – dish out spare antibiotics to our family and friends because we’re painfully aware of the harms of antibiotic resistance. Utter recklessness.” Stephen Baker, a professor at Cambridge University and an expert in molecular microbiology and antimicrobial resistance, branded the health secretary’s plans “moronic”. He told the newspaper that the more antibiotics were used “the more likely we are to get drug-resistant organisms”. He added that it was “nuts” to consider widening access to drugs, adding that resistance against antibiotics is “clearly one of the biggest problems humanity is facing in respect of infectious disease at the moment”. Read full story Source: The Independent, 17 October 2022
  19. Content Article
    The AHSN Network Polypharmacy Programme works across three pillars to achieve these outcomes: Population Health Management. Using data (NHS BSA Polypharmacy Comparators) to understand Primary Care Network risks and identify patients for prioritisation for a Structured Medication Review. Education & Training. Investing in clinical leaders – AHSN Polypharmacy Clinical Leads and expert Polypharmacy Trainers and delivery of local Polypharmacy Action Learning Sets (ALSs) to upskill the primary care workforce to be more confident about stopping unnecessary medicines. The ALS model was originally developed and piloted by Wessex AHSN and supported by Health Education England (HEE). Public Behaviour Change. Regional testing and evaluation of public-facing initiatives to change public perceptions of prescribing and encourage patients to open up about medicine concerns and expectations. Watch a recording of the AHSN Network's Polypharmacy: understanding the data webinar