Britain's new health secretary Sajid Javid walks outside his home in London, Britain June 27, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has urged the UK’s newly-appointed health secretary Sajid Javid to put pharmacists’ knowledge to better use to ensure proper utilisation of public funds and reduce hospitalisation.

In a letter addressed to Javid, PDA chairman Mark Koziol, said, “…we believe that better use of pharmacists’ knowledge to support patients on how to use their medicines properly can not only ensure the best use of public funds, but also improve outcomes and prevent avoidable hospital admissions.”

Up to 8.5 per cent of hospital beds can be made available, if pharmacists could advise patients on medication, he said. These beds are mostly occupied by patients who have been harmed by the effects of medicines.

In the letter, Koziol highlighted flaws in the system saying the Community Pharmacy contractual Framework was still based upon the volume of items dispensed in pharmacy.

The NHS spends around £16 billion a year on medicines, yet it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of this remain unused, he said.

Citing example from the NHS Long Term Plan, Koziol stated that “90 per cent of NHS spend on asthma goes on medicines, but incorrect use of medication can also contribute to poorer health outcomes and increased risk of exacerbations, or even admission”.

Better use of pharmacists who work in the community and primary care sectors could release pressure on the secondary care. This would enable better management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many of the prescribing pharmacists have recently been employed in GP practices to fill the workforce shortage.

“We believe that patients and the NHS could benefit even more if they were deployed instead, to manage the decisions around the prescribing and use of medicines, which after all is the unique training and expertise that pharmacists can bring,” Koziol said.

He further said that community pharmacy has been on the NHS frontline throughout the pandemic.

Visits to community pharmacy for healthcare reasons increased by nearly 40 per cent during the period.

PDA also raised the matter about the pending pay review of its members who are directly employed by the NHS.

“…we hope this is something you will bring to a fair and appropriate resolution,” Koziol said in the letter.

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