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16 April 2018

'In the Pharmacy, we're thinking about discharge as soon as a patient arrives'

Royal Papworth Hospital's Pharmacy begins working on a patient's discharge from the moment they are admitted.

The team of 43 WTE staff are working with every patient throughout their treatment – but Chief Pharmacist Jenny Harrison says the start and end of their time in hospital are key.
“We try and see patients’ charts every day, but we prioritise admission and discharge,” she said. “If you haven’t got the right starting point you can’t possibly get the rest of the treatment right.

“Quite a significant part of our job is making sure the patients are on the correct medication in the first place. There’s a lot of value in revisiting their drug histories and re-evaluating that."

The core of the team are based in the Pharmacy building, while other pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy support assistants are out in the hospital working with staff and patients in different departments.

 “Some of our patients have quite complicated conditions, and we need to keep an eye on their medication in relation to their blood results,” said Jenny, who arrived at the hospital as deputy chief pharmacist in 2010. "Primarily we’re there to make sure the patients are receiving their medicines safely, for example checking that medicines don’t interact, and that patients are on the right dose."

When a patient is ready to leave the hospital, the Pharmacy aims to have their prescription dispensed within 90 minutes of receiving it – so that there is no delay with the discharge. Currently they are managing to dispense within 45 minutes.
“In theory, everything should be ready and labelled so the patient is ready to go out the door,” said Jenny.

The department will be based on the ground floor of the new hospital, and will be the one that many patients see first on arrival.

“We will have a slightly smaller footprint so we will need to work differently and be more ward-based, integrating even more with the ward team, which is how it should be.”

And of course they will be aided by the new Pharmacy robot – a ceiling high box that automatically dispenses medicine from within.

“A human is still needed to request the drug from the robot; the robot then picks it off the shelves and delivers it to the pharmacy work station where it will be labelled before the final check. The major advantage of the robot is that it can store things a lot more efficiently than we can.”