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The detective inspectors of the pharmaceutical world! 

20th March 2019

Since I wrote my last message the NHS has introduced a ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign promoting the use of local pharmacy teams; you might have seen the ads which use children in various role play scenarios?  With this in mind, I thought I’d take the chance to introduce ACE’s two clinical pharmacists who now work across of our 4 practices in Tendring.

Niusha and Mehul have only been with us for a short period of time, but the positive impact they have made has been remarkable.  Both come from a community pharmacy background, Niusha explains how this role differs.

“I loved being a community pharmacist, however I was not able to prescribe medication for patients in need.  To remedy this I did further training at university to qualify as an independent prescriber clinical pharmacist.  This means that both Mehul and I can prescribe all medications, (with a few exceptions of hospital-only lines) providing we judge it’s within our clinical competence.”

On any one day Niusha and Mehul can see up to 22 patients each and this will often be for a medication review.  We’re all living longer but unfortunately many of us live with several medical conditions which need to be controlled by a variety of medications.  Our clinical pharmacists have such a specific understanding of the different medications that are out there, they are ideally placed to check if all the drugs can work well together.

Mehul described an experience he had recently with one of his patients: “I saw a lady who was experiencing chronic back pain and was on the highest dose of painkiller.  The doctor had talked about trying another drug which might be more effective, but had then said that she couldn’t have it but hadn’t explained why.  I was able to spend some time talking to her and I discovered that she had recently been diagnosed with glaucoma.  The new drug had the potential to make this condition worse, which was why she’d not been given it, but she hadn’t previously been told this.”

Niusha agrees: “The extra time we get to spend with the patient is so valuable.  Our appointment slots are for 15 minutes so we can get to know people a little better.  In the last two months I have seen at least 6 people who are on anti-depressants but their situation has now changed, and we can look to reduce their medication and ultimately stop it completely.  This is all because we have the time to find out how they really feel.  It is such a privileged position to be in.”

Mehul runs a regular asthma clinic: “It may seem obvious but if the person is not using their inhaler correctly, the medication won’t work.  During the clinic I can help them with the best technique, something that other medical staff don’t always have time to do.”

In addition to the patient appointments both Niusha and Mehul are tasked with reviewing online medication requests (often over 500 a week!) and this is where the investigative work can really start to happen.  Perhaps a patient has been discharged from hospital but not all the data has been captured in the discharge document.  This is when the clinical pharmacists have to spend time making phone calls, looking up records, checking blood results to try and determine what medication the patient requires.

Our clinical pharmacists are a huge asset to our primary care practice teams and have embraced the challenge of improving the healthcare we provide our patients.  We know they’re helping to reduce the pressure on our hospital system by ensuring that repeat prescriptions are processed in a timely fashion. 

But in line with the current NHS campaign ‘Help Us Help You’, can I take this opportunity to make a plea to all patients with a regular prescription; please submit the request for your repeat prescription in good time – this helps us ensure that you don’t run out. 

And if you feel that your medication needs a review, book an appointment with one of our pharmaceutical detective inspectors!


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