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Patients value hospital pharmacy medicine helpline service

A new qualitative study suggests that patients valued a hospital pharmacy medicine helpline after their discharge.

In the research, a team from Bath University undertook semi-structured telephone interviews with 40 patients who had accessed a patient medicine helpline service (PMHS) in seven NHS Trusts in England.

Topics covered in the interviews included aspects of what patients found useful about the service, the impact of any advice provided and where they would have sought advice if such a service did not exist.

Analysis of the interview data identified two key themes; timeliness and how the PMHS was best-placed to help patients. Patients reported feeling vulnerable after leaving hospital and in need of support especially during this transition period since they were often prescribed multiple medicines and felt that they did not ask relevant questions prior to discharge.

The PMHS was clearly seen as being able to provide timely support quickly rather than having to wait to speak with their GP or community pharmacist. Participants also felt that the PHMS was a knowledgeable resource and how it was beneficial to speak to a pharmacist about their medicines. Nevertheless, patients also noted that the PHMS was not available all the time and some reported being unaware of the existence of the service.

The authors recommended that the existence of the service should be promoted more widely and that the opening times extended to provide the greatest benefit to patients.

Williams M, Jordan A, Scott J et al. Service users’ experience of contacting NHS patient medicines helpline services: a qualitative study. BMJ Open 2020; 10: e036326.

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