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30th January 2015, 9:11am
£600,000 project to cut medication prescription risks
Medication A ground-breaking project to reduce the risk of patients being prescribed the wrong medication is set to be rolled out across 150 East Midlands GP practices following a major funding award.

Thousands of people across the East Midlands – including elderly and vulnerable patients – will benefit from the initiative, called ‘PINCER’ (see note to editors). The project is led by Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust supported by the University of Lincoln, University of Nottingham, the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network and 17 of the region’s Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The partnership received a major boost today (29 January) with the announcement of a £500,000 funding award from the Health Foundation with a further £117,000 already pledged by the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network.

The East Midlands project is one of just seven to receive support from the Health Foundation’s ‘Scaling Up Improvement’ award out of 150 applications nationally. With the funding now in place, the first stage between January and June 2015 will focus on getting PINCER ready to be implemented in waves across the East Midlands, starting from July.

PINCER provides each GP practice with access to a software system that automatically reviews existing prescriptions, and also offers expert support from a pharmacist.

The pharmacists will work with the practice staff 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. Pharmacists and GPs will share learning as part of the project, and it is also hoped to spread PINCER more widely across the country.

Professor Niro Siriwardena, Professor of Primary and Prehospital Health Care at the University of Lincoln, said that PINCER will not only prevent harm to patients, it could also lead to significant cost savings: “National statistics show that in 2013, one in 20 drugs were prescribed in error and this led to one in 25 of all admissions to hospital,” he said. “Pilot studies show that PINCER is inexpensive to roll out and helps reduce prescribing errors to high risk patients by up to 50%.”

Andrew Morgan, Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “This award is tremendous news, especially considering that our project is one of just seven from around the country to receive Health Foundation funding. Dozens of GP practices – and thousands of patients – from all five counties throughout our region will benefit from this initiative, which has been proven to be extremely effective in other areas of the country at reducing prescribing errors.”

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. The East Midlands has an excellent track record of leading innovation in health care, and the PINCER project will further build the region’s reputation for placing the needs of patients at the very heart of health service transformation.”

Dr Jane Jones, Assistant Director from the Health Foundation, said: “We are very excited to be working with these outstanding project teams, who have been selected for the Scaling Up Improvement programme for their expertise in large scale and complex improvement and change projects. Together we will aim to have real impact and make lasting improvements to the way health care is delivered, by testing out proven ideas at scale with the intention of these being widely adopted across the UK health service.”

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