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UEA awarded £2 million for research into reducing medication errors in care homes

Researchers at UEA have been awarded a £2 million grant from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) for a five-year research programme into medicines management in care homes.

The research follows on from three recent reports and NICE guidance on the management of prescribed drugs within care homes. One study found that almost 70% of care home residents experience at least one medication error on any given day.

Professors David Wright from UEA School of Pharmacy and Richard Holland from Norwich Medical School (UEA) are leading the research on this project in collaboration with colleagues at University of Aberdeen, Leeds University and Queen’s University Belfast, and in partnership with NHS South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The proposal is for a resident’s GP to continue to manage acute problems and assume overall responsibility for individual resident care whilst a pharmacist independent prescriber will assume responsibility for medicines management primarily through the development of individualised pharmaceutical care plans and repeat prescription authorisation.

Prof Richard Holland said: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for GPs and pharmacists to work together to improve patient care in the primary care setting.  It is great that we have been given sufficient time and funding to develop and trial the model before fully testing it. By determining the cost-effectiveness of the intervention rather than just its effectiveness we also increase the chance of the service being adopted more widely at a later date.”

Prof David Wright said: “We believe that this is a potentially cost-effective approach to meeting recent NICE guidance regarding the management of medicines in care homes.

“The prescribing pharmacist can support residents with their medicines when they transfer in and out of the home, work with the GP to provide reassurance that medicines are being regularly reviewed and monitored, help carers and nurses in homes to ensure that medicines are given safely and appropriately and work with residents to ensure that they are involved in any decisions about their medicines.”

The first year of the project will involve developing the service specification and in year two a small feasibility study will be undertaken in each area which will then lead onto a pilot and then proceed to a randomised controlled trial. 

Picture: Stephen Dickter/