National bodies, including NHS England, should support local medicines optimisation teams as their work is essential to improving safety and saving the NHS millions, NHSCC has stated.
In a briefing released yesterday, NHSCC highlighted the important work carried out by local medicines optimisation teams, which flag and address the incorrect use of medicines, to improve patient safety and alleviate the burden on primary care.
The work of these local teams is essential to saving the NHS money that can in turn be invested into frontline services in each local area, NHSCC said in the briefing, Delivering for patients, populations and the NHS.
Around £16.8bn of public money is spent on medicines every year but in 2016/17, local medicines optimisation teams managed to save NHS England a total of £450m, according to NHSCC.
In his forward to the publication, NHS England chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said: ‘Local strategic medicines optimisation teams are a valued component of the NHS system and will continue to be vital to the development of systems in the future.’
NHSCC compiled a list of actions that national bodies can follow to support the local teams:
- Ensure effective communication and engagement with local medicines optimisation teams: for instance by developing a formal network of local strategic medicines optimisation leads
- Develop national guidance for local implementation: Joint work between NHS England and local medicines optimisation teams will help identify areas that need national guidance
- Support local medicines optimisation teams by taking national action: NHS England should negotiate the best deal with pharmaceutical companies for specific products and items
- Balance the need for national oversight with the flexibility for medicines optimisation teams to make decisions based on local assessment of need and priority: NHS England should reduce the bureaucratic burden of reporting on these local teams
- Utilise the expertise of local medicines optimisations teams: These teams can play a crucial part in improving the local prescribing service
NHSCC chief executive Julie Wood said: ‘We believe it is essential that these teams are supported by NHS England and other national bodies to continue this important work and keep on delivering for patients, populations and the NHS.’
Her call for better support to the local teams comes just a few days after a group of 12 CCGs won a legal battle against two pharmaceutical giants over the use of the cheaper drug Avastin, prescribed to patients with wet age-related mascular degeneration (‘wet AMD’).
The drug could save the NHS £449m per year.