NHS England today announced plans to recruit and deploy 240 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to reduce overmedication and cut unnecessary hospital stays.
Around 180,000 people in nursing and residential homes will have their prescriptions and medicines reviewed under the new drive.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “There’s increasing evidence that our parents and their friends – a whole generation of people in their 70s, 80s and 90s – are being overmedicated in care homes, with bad results.
“Let’s face it- the policy of ‘a pill for every ill’ is often causing frail older people more health problems than it’s solving. So expert pharmacists are now going to offer practical NHS support and medicines reviews in care homes across England.”
NHS England said care home residents are being prescribed seven medicines daily on average with 10% of people aged 75 and over being prescribed 10 or more.
Studies show that up to one in 12 hospital admissions are medicines-related and two-thirds are preventable.
Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Board, said: “This significant investment highlights the growing recognition that pharmacists who support care home residents can reduce medicines waste, improve efficiency and provide better health outcomes.
“Many pharmacists already play a vital role in care homes, including through supporting other staff as part of a multi-disciplinary team, and we know that our members will welcome the opportunity to get more involved in providing direct patient care.
“In order to make the most out of this chance to improve health outcomes, commissioners can also better co-ordinate and integrate patient care by drawing on the expertise and knowledge of pharmacists wherever they are based.”