A report into the prevalence of medication errors in England has reignited calls by RPS Wales for urgent investment and roll-out of a robust electronic prescribing system across the Welsh hospital sector.
The issues of medication safety have been brought to the forefront following the publication of the ‘Prevalence and economic burden of medication errors in the NHS in England’. The report highlights a number of systemic issues which span the NHS which also need to be addressed in Wales, many of which could be addressed through IT connectivity and improved communication.
RPS Wales believe that action is now needed to close a critical gap in IT connectivity across NHS Wales. A single and robust system of hospital e-prescribing is called for to ensure effective communication and appropriate joint decision making can be made to improve patient outcomes and increase safety in the use of medicines.
Chair of the Welsh Pharmacy Board, Suzanne Scott-Thomas, said:
“Patients must be assured that water-tight systems are put in place across the NHS in Wales to minimise medication errors. We welcome steps that have been take already in Wales to improve medicines safety including 2D barcoding and the electronic transfer of prescriptions in the community, but we remain concerned that e-prescribing has not yet been introduced to the hospital sector.
"An urgent investment and roll out of a single hospital e-prescribing system is needed in Wales to complete the circle of IT connectivity. When in place, we can be more confident that medicines will be subject to the rigorous check and balances needed to improve safety levels."
RPS Wales believes that e-prescribing in hospitals is one of the key changes that can make a huge difference in minimising the risks of errors being made in the use of medicines, by connecting hospital based pharmacists, clinicians and nurses. Safer and timely discharge from hospital, improved antibiotic stewardship and a better focus on high risk medicines are just some of the advantages of hospital e-prescribing.
The 2016 report on medicines management by the Wales Audit Office highlighted that the delay in implementing a national electronic prescribing system was frustrating efforts to improve safety and efficiency.
RPS Wales supports the recommendation of the Wales Audit Office all health bodies should agree a detailed, time-bound plan for implementing electronic prescribing systems in secondary care and will continue to press for more urgent action to move the agenda forward.