Plans to tackle over-medication in care homes

NHS England has recruited a teams of experts to help prevent care home residents being given too many medicines and thereby cut hospital stays.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the NHS is putting in place medical and clinical experts, including 200 new clinical pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, who will support care home residents to improve quality of life, cut hospital stays and reduce over-medication.

This forms part of a £20 million programme to reduce unnecessary medication of patients and make sure they are getting the right treatment that is being rolled out across the country.

With care home residents prescribed an average of seven medicines a day, with many taking 10 or more, it is estimated that this costs the NHS an estimated £250 million each year, with charities voicing fears that a generation of older people is being subjected to a ‘chemical cosh’.

Approximately 400,000 people live in England’s 17,000 nursing and residential care homes with one in seven residents aged 85 or over. Collectively, they spend around two million days in hospital each year and account for about 250,000 emergency hospital admissions. Some 40 per cent of these admissions are thought to be avoidable through action such as tackling over medication.

Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia and Older People’s Mental Health at NHS England, said: “Older people deserve the best possible support and with many care home residents living with complex conditions, bringing in extra expert health advice will mean the NHS can reduce avoidable drug use, improve care and free up vital funding for better treatment.

“People want to know their mum or grandad is being properly looked after and helping them to live well and with the best possible quality of life is key to that. Strengthening the ties between GPs and care homes made a huge difference to residents’ health when we tested the scheme and the NHS Long Term Plan will mean older people in every part of the country soon will benefit from tailored, specialist support in their care home.”

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