by Dr Hana Morissey, School of Pharmacy
Health services across the world are facing an epidemic of chronic illnesses, referred to by the World Health Organisation as ‘non-communicable diseases.’
In most cases, once the condition has been diagnosed, a major part of the treatment is ongoing medication, but we know from many studies around the world that very few of us take our medication every day, exactly as prescribed.
Our hospital and community health services are currently acute presentation focussed, making them difficult to adapt to the management of long-term chronic conditions. As a result, our hospitals are spending millions of pounds dealing with complications of these chronic conditions which are potentially preventable with better management, and at much lower cost to the taxpayer.
University of Wolverhampton PhD candidate and Dudley community pharmacist, Olutayo Arikawe, is working with Dr Hana Morrissey, Reader and Professor Patrick Ball of the School of Pharmacy on a project that aims to develop new services in community pharmacy around helping people with chronic diseases to use their medications correctly and achieve the best possible outcomes from their treatment.
As it is also known that there is a strong link between chronic physical illness and anxiety and depression, and that when these occur, treatment outcomes worsen, the service will screen patients for early signs of problems so that they can be directed to appropriate help sooner.
The new service will be piloted in 10 community pharmacies around the country and the effects will be rigorously analysed to assess whether they deliver the benefits expected. Having secured a £15,000 grant, the whole team was brought together for two days of team building and training in Mental Health First Aid and the details of how to run the study protocol across all the study sites, attended by 30 pharmacists and pharmacy staff.
Ethics approval has been granted for the study from the Health Research Authority. The group are all enthusiastic to get started, and data collection should commence in the next few weeks.