Delaying digital hospital-to-pharmacy referral scheme will continue to stretch the NHS, says GlobalData

The digital hospital-to-pharmacy referral scheme is taking time to materialize despite the significant benefits it would provide to the UK. With adverse drug events being one of the most common post-discharge complications in the country, the initiative would be a further step ahead in solving healthcare capacity constraints and help the UK meet WHOs target to reduce severe avoidable harm from medicines by 50% by 2022, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Urte Jakimaviciute, MSc, Senior Director of Market Research commented: “The community pharmacist could play a crucial role in supporting patients that need extra support when transitioning from secondary to primary care to stay out of hospital. The UK has fewer hospital beds relative to its population than many developed healthcare systems such as France, Germany or Greece, so it is more imperative that as many beds are freed as possible.”

Figures released by the COVID-19 Clinical Information Network indicate that between 10-20% of patients with COVID-19 caught the infection while they were treated in hospital during the COVID-19 peaking time

Jakimaviciute continues: “Having pharmaceutical services become more integrated into the healthcare provision system would allow the NHS to be more efficient in controlling emergency admissions growth and dealing with outbreaks such as COVID-19.

Another point advocating the scheme is a potential for costs reduction.

Jakimaviciute notes: “Adverse drug event-related hospital readmissions are a huge cost to the NHS, reaching thousands of pounds per patient. The NHS has already been under pressure to deliver high-quality care while making efficiency savings, and the implementation of the referral scheme could help the system save millions of pounds each year.

“With the possibility of COVID-19 peaking once again at the same time as Britain enters a period of uncertainty when it leaves the EU’s single market and custom union, the UK Government has to do whatever it takes to ease strains on the NHS and protect its patients. While COVID-19 crisis was one of the main factors leading to delays in scheme, the implementation of the service would a huge step towards shifting the pressure from hospitals and GP practices.”

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