MPs, industry, patient groups and NHS representatives meet in Westminster to discuss ways to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety
Omnicell UK & Ireland, the world-leading provider of automated healthcare and medication adherence solutions, co-hosted a health summit in Westminster on Tuesday 5th February to discuss improving patient safety and reducing medication errors via the use of technology.
Last year (2018), the Department of Health and Social Care released a new report which found that in England 237 million mistakes occur every year at some point in the medication process. These errors cause serious issues for patient safety, but also place a significant cost burden on an already over-stretched NHS.
At the summit, a number of cross-party MPs, including Sir Kevin Barron MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pharmacy, participated in the panel debate to discuss ways in which medication errors can be avoided and the role technology plays in safeguarding patients and over stretched healthcare workers.
The summit attracted around 50 attendees from NHS Trusts across the UK as well as patient groups. They were able to put questions to the panel which also included Emily Watts, Inpatient Programme Manager, Diabetes UK, and Edward Platt, Director for Omnicell.
Opening the Summit, Andrea Jenkyns MP, welcomed attendees and began the discussion on medication errors in the NHS and the opportunity to improve patient safety.
Yinglen Butt, Associate Director of Quality and Regulation at the Royal College of Nursing gave a passionate speech outlining the impact of medication errors on the nursing profession. Approximately 40% of nurses’ clinical time is spent on administering medications, translating to 12-16 hours in any given working week. The workforce impact of these medication errors is monumental, including psychological trauma, loss of confidence, disciplinary action and in a few extreme cases, even suicide. Nurses are the ‘second victims’ of these tragedies.
There was consensus among those in the room that the NHS needs to get better at sharing best practice and the need to put in place a ‘one system approach’. Steve Tomlin, Chief Pharmacist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, discussed how the National Health Service needed to be more ‘national’ by reducing variation and standardising systems to drive patient safety forward. He explained that embracing technology was part of that as it ‘put the rationalisation into decision making’. He spoke about how investment in medicines administration technology has benefited the Trust and its patients alike. At Great Ormond Street medication administration cabinets are already in situ on a number of wards making it easier to locate and select the right medication for the right patient quickly. They now plan to improve patient safety and ensure nurses have more time at the bedside with patients, by rolling out these cabinets to every ward by the coming summer and integrating them with electronic prescribing to ‘close the loop’.
The summit heard that the estimated costs to the NHS of avoidable adverse drug reactions is £98.5 million per year, consuming 181,626 bed days, causing more than 700 deaths and contributing to a further 1,078 deaths. Adverse drug events in England have previously been estimated to be responsible for 850,000 inpatient episodes and costing £2 billion in additional bed days.
Paul O’Hanlon, Chief Executive, Omnicell UK & Ireland, added; “We are delighted to have hosted the Health Summit in Westminster. It has helped to raise the issue of how technology plays a pivotal role in reducing medication errors and improving patient safety, particularly in secondary care. Over three-quarters of errors occur within secondary care, not at the point of prescribing, but during the administration process. This is where Omnicell automated cabinets can play a key role.
“It’s great to see the Government has now recognised this, allocating funding late last year to 13 NHS Trusts for electronic prescribing and medicines administration systems with the promise further funding will follow for other Trusts later this year. At Omnicell we are committed to ensuring all Trusts are aware of the technology that already exists to help prevent medication errors and it’s been great for us to do that alongside other key organisations and MPs.
“I would like to thank all our MP partners, patient group representatives and customers for being here today and for taking part in the panel discussion.”