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Non-medical prescribing schemes ‘reduce hospital admissions’

NHS managers have hailed the use of non-medical prescribing as a means of avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions and backed the scheme as evidence for a wider rollout of non-medical prescribing.

An audit of the impact of non-medical prescribing on the delivery of patient care, carried out by NHS North West across 15 NHS trusts in the north west of England, found introducing non-medical prescribing schemes reduced GP appointments and hospital admissions.

Managers developed an electronic audit tool to capture data from PCTs, mental health and acute trusts, and evaluate a range of non-medical prescribing initiatives introduced to ‘address quality innovation, productivity and prevention targets in line with the Department of Health's NHS efficiency drive.

The analysis found the 2,500 interventions averted 1,180 GP and 365 consultant appointments, ‘a productivity measure demonstrating reduction of duplicated effort and more efficient use of workforce skills'.

The reported outcomes of interventions averted 159 episodes of unscheduled care, reduced length of hospital stay in 175 cases, and prevented re-admission for 113 patients.

Identification of sub-therapeutic doses, risk of drug interaction, inappropriate repeat prescribing and inappropriate drug regimes also prevented 747 cases of medicines-related admission.

Sam Sherrington, non-medical prescribing lead for NHS North West, said the findings strengthened the case for prescribing rights to be extended to allied professionals, as suggested by the previous Government.

‘This audit set out to demonstrate how non-medical prescribing impacts on delivery of patient care. A QIPP model has been used to illustrate the outcomes which include adherence concerns, cost efficiencies, waste reduction, improved outcomes, patient satisfaction, effective use of a highly skilled workforce and overall quality of care.'

‘The results of this audit have provided evidence for the DH stakeholder engagement exercise scoping the need for independent prescribing for podiatrists and physiotherapists.'

Prescribing and research in medicines management conference 2011, abstract #20.