Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, has called on NHS England to use the Pharmacy Integration Fund to accelerate referral to pharmacy schemes to help prevent readmissions into already overstretched hospitals.

In a speech to the Westminster Health Forum today she underlined the vital role pharmacists have in supporting transfer of care and the potential to do even more. She also criticised delays in the use of the Pharmacy Integration Fund to enhance vital services.

Gidley said: “We know that many of our members are already involved in helping to spread innovative practice and the Pharmacy Integration Fund has huge potential to further support patient access to pharmacist expertise across all care settings.

 “For example, referral to pharmacy schemes have been shown to reduce prescribing errors, ensure better value from medicines and reduce readmissions to hospital. Patients who are lucky enough to be in areas already providing this service have less chance of being readmitted to hospital if their community pharmacist is provided with information about changes to their medicines. This is great for patients and will also help reduce the numbers of people needing overstretched hospital services.

"However, examples of integrated practice are still unfortunately too few, when the Fund could be used to spread them more widely."

She said with the NHS facing pressures like never before, the time particularly ripe for such a move, saying it would be "nothing short of a scandal" if the best use of the clinical skills of frontline pharmacists were overlooked. 

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