An NHS-funded pharmacy emergency supply scheme could save the NHS around £120,000 annually if it were offered from just 227 pharmacies in North-East England, according to an evaluation published in British Medical Journal Open.
The evaluation of a local community pharmacy emergency repeat medication supply service (PERMSS) concluded that such a service would be "a viable option" to reduce the workload on the wider NHS. The service was "well-received" by the 2,485 patients who self-presented at 227 pharmacies during the four-month study, and most were willing to access the same pharmacy in future for medication-related issues.
In the absence of this service, 50 per cent of the patients would have missed their medication(s) until they saw their doctor, and a further 46 per cent would have accessed an alternative service. The cost of NHS service(s) for patients who would have accessed an alternative out-of-hours service was estimated as 37 times that of the pharmacy service provided. Pharmacists were happy to provide the service despite increased consultation times and workload.
Most patients presented on Saturdays, with increased activity over national holidays. Older age was associated with increased service use. Of the 3,226 medications provided, 439 were classified as high risk.
The projected annual cost of the PERMSS was £3,294.30. The estimated annual cost of accessing alternative OOH services (GP OOH via 111, walk-in/urgent care centre or A&E) was £123,075.