NHS England has announced that funding will be made available to recruit pharmacists to work in care homes to try and cut down on the amount of unnecessary medicines taken by residents.
As several reports highlight the dangers of over-medication, NHS England has said that around 180,000 living in nursing or residential homes will have their medicines checked.
According to the health body, elderly care home residents are prescribed seven medicines a day on average, with around 10 per cent of people aged 75 or over being given 10 or more in a cocktail of drugs that could harm their health rather than improve it.
As a spokesman for NHS England pointed out, there is increasing evidence that a whole generation of people in their 70s, 80s and 90s are being over-medicated in care homes, with bad results.
A trial that was carried across 37 care homes in Herefordshire found that by having their medicines reviewed, money was saved and hospital admissions among elderly patients went down. In addition, the decrease in medication improved residents’ quality of life.
People in care homes often have one or more long-term health conditions, such as dementia, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease, which can lead to them taking a large variety of medication.
Cutting down on medication can also cut down on hospital admissions for residents, as studies suggest that one in 12 of such admissions is medicine-related. It also cuts down on the number of ambulance call outs and saved drug costs of between £125 and £305 per resident.
The introduction of the scheme is part of NHS England’s ‘Refreshing NHS Plans for 2018-19’, which sets out measures to provide joined-up services for patients to ensure they receive the most appropriate care.