Half of hospital trusts will refer to community pharmacy by 2020

NHS England has tasked Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN) to roll out its Transfer of Medicines Care (TCAM) program to 50% of trusts in England by the end of 2020.

The scheme, which was first piloted in 2014 and is now running in several NHS trusts across England, connects the IT systems of hospitals and community pharmacies, allowing hospital trusts to send messages online to community pharmacists through Pharm Outcomes identify patients who may need additional help taking new medications after leaving the hospital.

According to the AHSN website, the TCAM scheme will save NHS £28.8million in 2019/2020, based on a reduction in the length of hospitalization “by 113,406 days and 2,007 fewer readmissions”.

Clare Howard, clinical lead for drug optimization at Wessex AHSN, said The Pharmaceutical Journal that, although TCAM has been launched in some trusts in each of the 15 AHSN networks across England, NHS England has instructed AHSN “to ensure that [TCAM] operational in 50% of trusts” by 2020.

“Obviously what happens after [the 2020 deadline] depends on NHS England, as they have asked us to do this rollout, so we may be taking it a step further.

“We’ll have to wait to see what’s in the community pharmacy contract to find out what the future holds,” she added.

Howard went on to explain that the NHS trusts involved in the program use a “message broker… which sucks up data that is simply linked to [patient] medicines” and sends it “through PharmOutcomes to the community pharmacy“.

“Pharmacies are told to check PharmOutcomes about once a day just to check if they’ve had referrals,” she added.

She added that the technology behind TCAM is “linked” to guidelines issued by the Professional Record Standards Body on April 29, 2019, which set out how pharmacists, hospitals and GPs should record patient medication data so that they can be shared between healthcare establishments.

According to Howard, 55,000 patients were referred to the community pharmacy by hospitals after discharge over the past year, of which 33,000 were treated by a community pharmacy.

A study of TCAM during its pilot at two hospital sites in Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust surveying 207 pharmacies in Newcastle found that 2,029 patients were referred over a 13-month period in 2014 and 2015, with 31% of these patients followed up for community pharmacy consultation.

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