The pharmacy at Ashford and St Peter’s hospitals is speeding up the time it takes patients to receive their prescribed medicines, with additional support offered through a dedicated helpline which patients can access when they have returned home.

Chief Pharmacist, Victoria Griffiths, explains more: “Recent surveys show that many of our patients were not happy with the time it was taking to receive their prescriptions when they were leaving hospital. Sometimes this could take around 4 – 6 hours to sort out and would often delay the patient’s discharge by several hours. By introducing a computerised ‘prescription tracker’ we are now able to monitor where individual prescriptions are within the system, to make sure they are completed within the target time (which is 2 hours for discharge prescriptions). This has helped us prioritise our dispensing and also to clearly identify our busiest times so we can make sure we have the right numbers of staff on duty to manage the varying workloads.”

The prescription tracker uses a bar code system which tracks prescriptions issued within the Trust through the various clinical screening, dispensing and checking processes. This information can also be seen by the ward staff which helps them to give patients a more accurate time for their discharge. The system uses a coloured progress bar that moves across the prescription in direct proportion to the time elapsed against the target time for that prescription (different medicines will take different amounts of time to prepare and dispense).

Victoria continues: “Patients were also telling us they wanted more information about their medicines when they leave hospital. So we are now able to give patients access to a dedicated Medicines helpline, to help with any queries relating to their medication. The helpline is accessible by calling 01276 526751 and is available Monday to Friday, from 11am to 3pm.”

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