Patients reluctant to accept pharmacists' medicine use reviews

Pharmacists' medicines use reviews (MURs) are slowly catching on despite widespread unpopularity with GPs, a study of the service has found.

Accredited pharmacists have been paid to review the way patients take their medicines since the new pharmacy contract came in in 2005.

Pharmacies can now claim for 400 MURs a year. But the GPC has condemned the reviews as a ‘duplication’ of effort.

During 2005/6, 152,854 reviews were carried out in England and Wales, out of a possible two million. Only 6.8 per cent of the budget was spent, the study, led by Alison Blenkinsopp, professor of the practice of pharmacy at Keele University.

Two-thirds of the way into 2006/7, pharmacists in England had carried out 319,902 reviews, 8 per cent of the total allowed.

GPs have been sharply critical of the new service and they have slated the pharmacists’ reports back to the practice.

‘GP acceptance of MURs is poor,’ one primary care organisation told the study team.

One SHA said that ‘results from MURs have wound up the GPs’ and that they were ‘often of questionable need and dubious quality’.

Another SHA said that  the‘paperwork is dreadful and not available electronically’.

Professor Blenkinsopp said the MUR report is being revised but is still not available in electronic form.

The study team found ‘few positive examples around MUR implementation.’ But one PCT was running an ‘Are you in a muddle with your medicines?’ scheme where GPs and practice nurses refer to the pharmacy for an MUR.

They found that MURs caught on ‘in some areas where the GPs have set the patient selection criteria’.

Patients with respiratory disease, polypharmacy, compliance difficulties, diabetes and coronary heart disease were most likely to be selected. Two primary care organisations won GPs over by allowing MURs to count towards a medicines management quality target.

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