RPS and RCGP call for improvements to NHS information sharing to prevent harm

Published on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 16:51
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in Wales have called for urgent improvements in the NHS IT systems to help minimise harm and bring about better outcomes for patients.

Speaking at a joint reception at the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff, the organisations urged Assembly Members to back crucial and long awaited IT developments which will enable safe and appropriate sharing of patient information between GPs and pharmacists.

RPS and RCGP, who work to help pharmacists and GPs improve patient care, highlighted the potential risks to patients as they move from one NHS service to another.  They called for improvements to minimise the potential of harm associated with medicines including an end to outdated paper-based systems, and an introduction of e-prescribing systems for hospitals to allow for effective and rapid exchange of patient information. They also urged for community pharmacists to have appropriate access to the individual patient records which are currently not routinely available to community pharmacists but which are critical in supporting them to make well informed clinical decisions when delivering unscheduled care to patients. This access should be underpinned by a framework to protect patient information, allowing information to be shared safely, on a need-to-know basis only, between healthcare professionals.

The professional bodies announced plans to work closely with patients to ensure that their voice and concerns were listened to and they were confident that the right information is shared in the right way.

The prescribing and dispensing of medicines are the most common health care interventions in the NHS, but they can cause unintentional harm to patient, with 1 in 20 hospital admissions being as a result of an adverse drug reaction or problem with a patient medication. A number of these are preventable if NHS Wales had improved IT systems that enable the prompt sharing of information with the patient, their GP, pharmacist and hospital.

Mair Davies, Chair of the Welsh Pharmacy Board, governing body of the RPS in Wales said "It is unacceptable that pharmacists are having to guess a patient's diagnosis or their clinical condition when supplying medicines that could have adverse effects on them. Patients want a seamless health service, with all healthcare professionals having access to key clinical information at the point of caring for the patient. Better patient care means lifting the barriers and communicating properly with our colleagues."

"It is encouraging that work is ongoing in Wales, led by the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS), to bring these key developments about. But we believe the pace of change must increase now to bring about a robust IT infrastructure to improve patient safety in Wales and we urge the Welsh Government to make this a priority."

Paul Myres, Chair of the RCGP in Wales said "Our aim is to maximise efficacy of medication and minimise harm.  Therapies need to be tailored to each patient.  We can ensure that happens, by collaboration between primary and secondary care, between pharmacy and general practice and of course with the patients themselves and their carers.

Wales needs a comprehensive IT strategy for primary and secondary care that allows and encourages controlled sharing of core information, such as diagnoses, investigation results and medications between relevant health professionals and that should involve community pharmacies.

We know this is technically possible; it will need resources but patients should have a right to expect no less."

Source: ©RPS

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