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2nd February 2016, 2:41pm
Initiative is helping to save lives across the East Midlands
Pills A ground-breaking project to reduce the risk of patients being prescribed the wrong medication is being rolled out across 150 East Midlands general practices - with plans to increase this to 500 by the end of 2016.

National statistics show that one in 20 prescriptions contain an error*  and lead to one in 25 of all admissions to hospital. The PINCER project is being rolled out to GPs across the region to help prevent prescribing errors in general practices, with support from the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EMAHSN).  

When used by GPs, PINCER reduces the number of medicines-related patient safety incidents by up to 50 per cent and could increase the quality of life for thousands of patients. It has also been shown to save around £2,500 per practice through reduced hospital admissions for patients.

The initiative is being led by Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, universities of Lincoln and Nottingham, EMAHSN and Clinical Commissioning Groups, with funding from the Health Foundation and EMAHSN.

Professor Niro Siriwardena, Professor of Primary and Prehospital Health Care at the University of Lincoln’s School of Health and Social Care, said: “This initiative provides a model for how pharmacists can successfully contribute to the primary care team. GP and pharmacists are working and learning together across the East Midlands region to make general practice prescribing even safer.”

Practices upload the PINCER software, which helps to identify at-risk patients, and GPs meet with pharmacists who are specially trained in the PINCER Intervention to deliver the initiative. PINCER provides each practice with access to a system that automatically reviews existing prescriptions, and also offers expert support from a pharmacist.

Pharmacists work with the practice to review the way drugs are prescribed, reducing the risk that patients, particularly people with a number of conditions who need a combination of different drugs, receive the wrong medication.  PINCER enables the active involvement of a multidisciplinary team, including GPs, nurses and support staff; resulting in safety improvements for patients.

The project is supported by the National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) in its Medicines Optimisation Clinical Guideline.

Currently, 110 practices across four of the East Midland’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are using the initiative, which is now being rolled out to a further 12 CCGs, benefiting thousands of people from across the East Midlands – including many elderly and vulnerable patients.

Sadler Stacey, a Primary Care Pharmacist in Rushcliffe CCG, said: “The PINCER intervention provides a great opportunity for primary care pharmacists and GPs to work together. Using the PINCER approach allows all involved in the prescribing process to really understand their particular prescribing systems and processes and gain an insight into why prescribing issues are arising.  Discussing ways of overcoming issues identified has been very rewarding and has resulted in many positive changes within GP practices regarding their prescribing and monitoring systems.”

Professor Tony Avery, Director of Research at the University of Nottingham's School of Medicine, said: "Medication errors often lead to considerable risk of harm to patients and increase the number of unnecessary admissions to hospital, placing extra pressure on services. So far, rolling out this project across the East Midlands has been going really successfully and we want to thank all partners and the Clinical Commissioning Groups involved.”

Janice Wiseman, Research and Innovation Manager, Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust added: “Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust is delighted to be involved in this project.  It offers a wonderful opportunity to contribute to an improvement in healthcare for the people of Lincolnshire, bringing benefits for so many, both now and in the future.”

Professor Rachel Munton, EMAHSN Managing Director, said: "We are delighted to support this project which is supporting GPs to make prescribing safer.  We believe it will make a massive impact and lasting improvements to the way health care is delivered, across our region and beyond.”

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