Care problems for discharged children
Children with life-threatening conditions are struggling to get the medicines they need in primary care after being discharged from hospital, a study has found.
A third of parents had problems getting hold of unlicensed or off-label medicines for their children, with GPs sometimes refusing to prescribe the drugs or pharmacists failing to stock them.
The researchers on the new study, published online by the Archives of Disease in Childhood, said there had been serious problems with care.
They cited one case where a parent had struggled to find tacrolimus to prevent graft rejection following a child's heart transplant.
Dr Ian Wong, director of the Centre for Paediatric Pharmacy Research at the University of London, said: 'Some patients experienced disruption and this could be life-threatening.'
The research studied 216 children discharged from a hospital in London and found parents had difficulty getting hold of drugs in 72 cases.
In 26 cases the GP had refused to prescribe, and in 38 the local pharmacy either did not stock the medication or was unable to supply the correct formulation.
'The results are likely to be applicable to other children's hospitals,' Dr Wong said.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, member of the GPC prescribing sub-committee and a GP in Stanmore, Middlesex, said: 'It is not fair to expect GPs to prescribe unlicensed medication when they do not have experience or knowledge of them. If they did it would put them in a precarious position.'
Dr Nagpaul said hospital pharmacies could dispense medicines and children with serious conditions should not be discharged if they did not have access to the medication they needed.