Practice nurses are being encouraged to make use of a new service designed to help patients with long term conditions to get the maximum benefit from their medicines.
The government is investing £100m in the New Medicines Service over the next two years. It will allow prescribers, including nurses and GPs, to refer their patients to a local pharmacy for a consultation when they prescribe a new treatment.
Due to go live on 1 October, the service will be open to patients prescribed one of 18 types of drugs to treat asthma and COPD, type 2 diabetes and hypertension, as well as for antiplatelet or anticoagulant therapies.
Alastair Buxton, head of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which represents pharmacies, said he expected nurses to be central to the new service due to the nature of the conditions being targeted.
“A nurse may write the patient’s prescription but then they go home and read the information, talk to friends and family, go on the internet - all of which might raise more questions. Equally, when the patient takes the medicine it might not be as they expected,” he said.
The patient will be seen by the pharmacist between seven and 14 days after beginning the new drug. It is hoped pharmacists will be able to deal with most of the issues raised avoiding the need for unnecessary appointments or hospital admissions due to patients not taking medicines properly.
Chris Loveridge, the pulmonary disorder lead for the Education for Health charity who has advised on the service’s development, told Nursing Times its success depended on good communication between practices and pharmacies.
She said it could be particularly beneficial for patients discharged from hospital with a new prescription but warned many pharmacists may not have the necessary disease specific knowledge.