Research published today shows that the New Medicine Service (NMS), an innovative medicines advice service for patients, could improve patients’ lives and save scarce NHS resources.
A randomised controlled trial showed that 10 weeks after receiving the NMS consultations from their community pharmacists, patients were more likely to be taking their medicine (or had sought help from their prescriber), compared with those who received the normal service from their pharmacist.
The evaluation of the NMS was carried out by The University of Nottingham and University College London, and was commissioned by the Department of Health. Seven in every 10 patients who received the NMS from their pharmacist took their medicine or had sought help from the prescriber, compared with six in every 10 in the control group who received the normal service
Economic modeling showed that the service could increase a patient’s length and quality of life while costing the NHS less, when compared with patients who did not receive the service.
Lead researcher, Professor Rachel Elliott from The University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy, said: “Evaluating real life health services is challenging, and it is difficult to fully predict the long term outcomes of the NMS, but our research suggests that patients will ultimately be better off as a result of the NMS and patients who receive the service will cost the NHS less money in the long term.”
Gary Warner, independent community pharmacy contractor and Chair of PSNC’s Service Development Subcommittee, says: “It’s great to see that this evaluation proves what individual community pharmacies have been telling us for a long time — that the New Medicine Service can make a real and positive difference for people being prescribed new medicines, and that it represents good value for the NHS and those funding the service. We very much look forward to discussing the evaluation with the NHS and hope to see the NMS continuing to go from strength to strength.”
Antony Chuter, Patient Co-applicant at The University of Nottingham, says: “For me, it is knowing that the extra support that pharmacists who offer the NMS give patients to take their medicines, really makes a difference to people and their health.”
Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Patients have a lot to gain from the New Medicine Service (NMS) — as this study shows — and it is excellent news that 90 per cent of pharmacies in England are now offering this service.
“The RCGP has recently warned that half of all adults in England find the health advice given to them by doctors and health professionals too complicated — including instructions on how to take medication appropriately. And so we are optimistic that this study shows the NMS to significantly increase patients’ adherence to their new medicine.
“The study also makes clear just how important it is for GPs and pharmacists to work closely together in the best interests of our patients and to keep the NHS such good value for money.
“At a time when both general practice and pharmacy are straining under increasing workloads and diminishing resources, the use of any initiative — such as NMS — that saves the NHS money should be encouraged.
“The RCGP enjoys a constructive relationship with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and we look forward to continuing this work to develop more ways in which GPs and pharmacists can work together effectively for the overall benefit of our patients.”
The NMS is offered by over 90 per cent of community pharmacies in England. The NMS was launched in 2011 by the Department of Health for England, and is aimed at improving patients’ adherence to their medicines. Research had found that people often experienced problems with their medication during the first few weeks of it being prescribed. A pilot of a pharmacy advice service suggested it could improve medicine taking, reduce the number of problems that patients reported, and save money compared to a normal service.
As part of the service, community pharmacists provided extra support for patients taking a new medicine for high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, chronic lung problems and for medicines which thin the blood. Participants were prescribed their medicines as normal with advice, but would then be offered a consultation with the pharmacist two or three weeks later, either in person or over the phone.
The purpose of the research was to evaluate whether the NMS helped improve patients’ adherence to medication, whether the service provided value for money, how it was delivered and whether it could be improved. The findings will be used by the Department of Health to assess whether the service should continue nationwide.
To view a full copy of the report, visit www.nmsevaluation.org.uk.
This report is independent research commissioned and funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme (‘Understanding and Appraising the New Medicines Service in the NHS in England’ — PRP 029/0124). The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Department of Health
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