When some patients leave hospital they can need extra support taking their prescribed medicines. This may be because their medicines have changed or they need some help taking their medicines safely and effectively. This transfer of care process is associated with an increased risk of adverse effects – 30-70% of patients experience unintentional changes to their treatment or an error is made because of a miscommunication. However, original work in the North East has shown that patients who see their community pharmacist after discharge from hospital are less likely to be readmitted and, if they are, will experience a shorter stay.
This is what the Transfer of Care Around Medicine (TCAM) NHS England national programme aims to address and Imperial College Health Partners have been leading its implementation in North West London.
ICHP have worked with hospital trusts and local pharmaceutical committees to develop a local TCAM pathway, implement a secure electronic referral platform – PharmOutcomes® – through which patient discharge summaries are sent and provide training for community pharmacists on providing post-discharge support to patients. Since launching in June 2019 our 3 live Trusts have achieved more than 500 completed referrals, with six further hospitals due to start sending referrals by April 2020.
“We’ve been very happy that this system has been introduced because all pharmacists have been doing [this service] for years – by getting faxes from hospitals, chasing GP surgeries or asking patients to bring in the discharge summary themselves. This way we know what is happening before the patient walks in our door. Patients are very surprised that I know they’re on new medication. It improves our relationship with the patient – it shows them we are working as a team with their GP and hospital.”