200 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to be drafted in to support care home residents


The NHS is putting in place medical and clinical experts, including 200 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, who will support care home residents to improve quality of life, cut hospital stays and reduce over-medication.


The move comes as officials begin the process of executing various elements of the NHS Long Term Plan.


The additional staff are being brought in alongside the national roll-out of a programme in the NHS Long Term Plan – and already in place in 14 parts of the country – giving everyone living in a care home improved GP support and more visits from specialists like dieticians and clinical pharmacists.


The new programme will also help to reduce the number of visits to A&E caused by older patients’ medicine use – studies suggest one in 10 older people’s admissions to hospital is linked to their medicine intake, with the majority of these are thought to be avoidable with better care and support.


Professor Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia and Older People’s Mental Health at NHS England, said:


“Older people deserve the best possible support and with many care home residents living with complex conditions, bringing in extra expert health advice will mean the NHS can reduce avoidable drug use, improve care and free up vital funding for better treatment.


“People want to know their mum or grandad is being properly looked after and helping them to live well and with the best possible quality of life is key to that.


“Strengthening the ties between GPs and care homes made a huge difference to residents’ health when we tested the scheme and the NHS Long Term Plan will mean older people in every part of the country soon will benefit from tailored, specialist support in their care home.”


England’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Keith Ridge said:


“Too many patients are prescribed medicines they may no longer need or may need adjusting, which is why the NHS Long Term Plan is funding expert pharmacy teams across the country to give tailored advice to care home residents and extra support to staff to increase the safety and quality of older people’s care.


“Rather than assuming there’s a pill for every ill, increasing the availability of specialist health advice in care homes will mean residents get more personalised treatment, reduced chances of being admitted to hospital and people will have a better quality of life, for longer.”


Chair of RPS in England Sandra Gidley said:


“I’m delighted that the programme of recruiting pharmacists and pharmacy technicians into care homes across England has proved successful and will continue. RPS has long campaigned for this to happen to improve the health of our most vulnerable populations. Including pharmacy professionals in the care home workforce has been proven to cut medication errors, reduce polypharmacy and make savings for the NHS which will benefit patient care and safety.


“Making pharmacists part of the multidisciplinary team matches the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan, which emphasises working across traditional boundaries with other health professions to drive up standards of care. We look forward to seeing the programme expand even further and to helping colleagues, residents and their families and carers.”