Significant research grant awarded to develop and test a new model of pharmacy practice in care homes

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast and the Universities of East Anglia, Aberdeen and Leeds, in partnership with NHS South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), have succeeded in winning a £2 million Programme Grant from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) for a five year programme of research into medicines management in care homes.

The Queen’s University Belfast contribution will be led by Professor Carmel Hughes, from the School of Pharmacy. Professors David Wright and Richard Holland from the School of Pharmacy and School of Medicine respectively at the University of East Anglia, are leading the research.

A national report identified large numbers of medication errors in care homes and recommended that one individual should be responsible for medicines management. Emerging evidence indicates that pharmacist independent prescribers can practise in a safe and effective manner and so, the team of researchers applied for funding to develop a pharmacist independent prescriber model of medicines management in care homes. The funded programme aims to determine the cost-effectiveness of pharmacist independent prescribers working in care homes in an integrated manner with general practitioners and care home staff.

The proposal is for a resident’s GP to continue to manage acute problems and assume overall responsibility for individual resident care whilst the pharmacist independent prescriber will assume responsibility for medicines management primarily through the development of individualised pharmaceutical care plans and repeat prescription authorisation. The first year of the project will involve working with all stakeholders to develop the service specification.  In year two a small feasibility study will be undertaken in each area which will then lead onto a pilot and then proceed to a randomised controlled trial.

Professor Hughes, from the School of Pharmacy at Queen's, said: "This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for GPs and pharmacists to work together to improve patient care in the primary care setting. It is great that we have been given sufficient time and funding to develop and test the model before moving to a full trial. By determining the cost-effectiveness of the intervention rather than just its effectiveness we also increase the chance of the service being adopted more widely at a later date".

Academic leads:

  • University of East Anglia: Professors David Wright and Richard Holland
  • Queen’s University Belfast: Professor Carmel Hughes
  • University of Aberdeen: Professor Christine Bond and Professor Phyo Myint
  • University of Leeds: Dr David Alldred

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on or 028 9097 5384.

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