LloydsPharmacy launches pilot program to help and support mental health patients

LloydsPharmacy is piloting an innovative new service that offers extra help and support to mental health patients. Funded by The National Institute for Health Research Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR GM PSTRC), which is a partnership between The University of Manchester and Salford Royal, the pilot is being carried out in ten community pharmacies in Greater Manchester.

The new service, referred to as AMPLIPHY, enables pharmacists to provide personalized support to people who have been newly prescribed a medicine for depression or anxiety, or those who have experienced a recent change to their prescription.

The pilot program has been funded and designed by researchers at the NIHR GM PSTRC in collaboration with LloydsPharmacy. Central to the program is the ability for patients to lead the direction of support they receive. They set their own goals and objectives and the pharmacist supports them in these. The goals can be anything, from wanting to spend more time outside to taking up a new hobby.

Professor Darren Ashcroft, Deputy Director of the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC, said:

The NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC focuses on improving patient safety across four themes which include Medication Safety and Mental Health. AMPLIPHY covers two of these areas and we believe it has the potential to make a difference to patients, by providing enhanced support for their care in the community."

Dr. Hayley Gorton, who has helped develop the project and deliver training with the NIHR GM PSTRC and is Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice at the University of Huddersfield, said:

Community pharmacists are the most visited healthcare provider in England and 1.6 million people visit one every day. They represent a significant opportunity when looking at how to improve patient safety in the treatment of mental health conditions. We welcomed the opportunity to work with LloydsPharmacy on this pilot because we could see the potential for real impact. In our previous research**, pharmacy teams themselves suggested the incorporation of a service related to medicines for mental health problems."

During an initial consultation, a pharmacist will discuss the medication with the patient, chatting through the correct way to take it as well as what to do if they experience any potential side effects. If they have any further questions or concerns it will be ensured they know who to contact at the pharmacy.

After the initial consultation, AMPLIPHY includes another meeting 7 to 14 days later, then a follow-up every time the patient picks up a prescription, for the first three months of treatment. It doesn't have to be a face to face consultation; it is up to the patient.

Gary Pickering, Professional Support Manager at McKesson UK, parent company of LloydsPharmacy, said:

We're excited to be involved in a partnership that is helping to improve the lives of people living with mental health conditions. The AMPLIPHY service has been designed with patients in mind. Ten pharmacies are delivering the service, all of which have been chosen because of the pharmacist's desire to be engaged in the project and enthusiasm to make a difference. All the pharmacists involved have received specialised training, which includes suicide awareness training to further improve patient safety."

The aim is to recruit twelve people into the service in each of the 10 community pharmacies, generating a sample group of at least 100 patients.

Gary continues:

Treatment for mental health conditions can often present ups and downs for patients during the first few months. As such, treatment failure rates can be quite high. By supporting the patients through this journey and giving reassurances that what they're experiencing is normal, the hope is that the treatment outcomes will significantly improve. Pharmacists see patients regularly and already offer advice on medications. They are ideally placed to provide support and counselling for mental health patients and to help make sure their treatment is as effective as possible. It's essential that we use this pilot as an opportunity to listen and to learn so we can find out what people want and expect from their interactions with pharmacists."

The pilot is set to run until April 2020 when its impact will be evaluated before a decision is made on the next steps.

Participating pharmacies are located across Greater Manchester, and one is LloydsPharmacy, Health and social Care Centre, Salford.

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