Medicines optimisation: why it’s important

Karen O’Brien, controlled drug accountable officer (CDAO), Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, describes why medicines optimisation – a key focus for the NHS Long Term Plan – is important to her. She describes how practice pharmacists can make best use of NICE resources

This is an edited version of an article which first appeared on the NICE website.

I’ve been a pharmacist since 1994 and my thoughts when I’m prescribing and dispensing medicines have always been, ‘Would I want my mum or my family to take this?’

Medicines optimisation, as supported by NICE, is the latest iteration of how we can improve the prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicines. What it means is that the pharmacist can ensure a person gets the right choice of medicine, at the right time.

By using the medicines optimisation resource NICE has produced we can support patient outcomes in all care sectors and especially at local and neighbourhood levels. For me, medicine optimisation means focusing on people and their experiences in order to help them improve their outcomes, take their medicines correctly, avoid unnecessary medication, reduce wastage and ensure safety.

The NHS Long Term Plan has given us the perfect vehicle to prove how valuable a pharmacist can be in relation to medicines’ safety. When pharmacists need information about a medicine today, they can go straight on to the web; the British National Formulary (BNF) and the NICE guidance have always been there to help.

The NHS Long Term Plan has given us the perfect vehicle to prove how valuable a pharmacist can be in relation to medicines’ safety.

I rely on the NICE medicines optimisation pathway, especially, because in my current role I am responsible for all aspects of controlled drugs management within the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership. I am happy to say that the number of medicine optimisation projects is growing. These projects can only help clinical pharmacists support patients better, whether in GP practices, community pharmacies or other settings.

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