Pharmacy Voice has released new data which for the first time systematically captures the extent of patient harm across the UK as a result of medicine supply problems.
The research, conducted by an independent company, shows that the number of incidents of delay leading to a clinical impact was relatively low (12% of the total) but the extent of distress and inconvenience was high. The data shows that 44% of patients were inconvenienced by the incident and a further 21% experienced distress. Altogether delays that amount to patient inconvenience or distress could number more than 1 million a year.
Nearly half of pharmacies were found to be advising prescribers to change a patient’s prescription at least once a week, to ensure continuity of supply to patients. The pharmacy time spent on this problem, and therefore diverted from patient-facing roles, was estimated to be at least 210,000 days of pharmacy staff time per year.
The data also suggests that manufacturing and regulatory difficulties, and supply and demand issues are all contributing to medicine supply problems.
Mike Holden, from Pharmacy Voice said:
“In the vast majority of cases where there is a delay to supply, the patient is not put at risk of serious harm, but every delay is inconvenient and the level of patient distress is intolerable. No-one in the supply chain should accept this situation which is also impacting on professional reputation.”
“Department of Health guidance, put together by the supply chain working group, states that pharmacies should wait no more than 24 hours for supplies of medicines – patients have a right to expect that this very reasonable commitment is met every time. This needs to be treated as a firm and enforceable obligation, not just a nice-to-do.
“The APPG group held a thorough inquiry into medicine shortages earlier in the year, and provided helpful and wide-ranging recommendations. Pharmacy Voice wants the Government to send a clear signal of support for the APPG’s recommendations.”
“The statistic on manufacturing problems is interesting, especially if it points to an emerging rather than an historic weakness in the supply chain. Further research is needed to establish whether this is a growing problem, and whether further actions could be necessary here. We plan to enter into a dialogue with manufacturers about this specific matter. ”