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Community pharmacies in England will have to go through a clinical audit focusing on valproate, following an agreement reached between the PSNC and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I).

The audit, a part of NHS contractual requirements, aims to reduce the potential harm caused by taking valproate during pregnancy.

The 2021/22 audit will be based on the Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) audit, allowing contractors to close the cycle by re-auditing their practice.

NHSE&I recently shared the results of the PQS 2019/20 valproate audit.

Around 5.6 per cent of the 12,068 girls or women of childbearing potential who participated in the audit said they were not advised in line with the MHRA Drug Safety Update 2018 relating to the potential impact on an unborn child.

Of the total, 10.6 per cent did not have a copy of the Patient Guide and 11.1 per cent did not have a copy of the Patient Alert Card.

PSNC said that the audit result shows, “there is still more work to be done to ensure women and girls receive the correct information about valproate and the risk of birth defects.”

PSNC director of NHS Services, Alastair Buxton, said: “Pharmacy teams have a vital role to play in ensuring valproate is prescribed and dispensed safely to women and girls.

“Many contractors have told us they want to see the results of previous audits shared and the audit cycle being completed; this audit will achieve that aim, building on the important work that pharmacy teams completed in the 2019/20 PQS and supporting further action to address this important patient safety issue.”

The negotiator will alert contractors once the paperwork for the audit is finalised.

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