Outsourcing pharmacy services could be the answer for many Trusts

Kieran Doona, head of healthcare services at LloydsPharmacy, part of Celesio UK, discusses how outsourcing pharmacy services could be the answer to challenges facing many NHS Trusts.

It’s the ultimate dilemma for Trusts – how to balance the need to increase efficiencies with the demands to deliver better patient outcomes.

The Lord Carter Operational Review suggests that the solution to getting the best value out of the NHS budget lies in operational change. One area in particular which has been identified as an opportunity for the NHS is collaboration and partnerships with other healthcare providers. It is clear that by leveraging the expertise of other organisations and working more closely with providers, Trusts can start to benefit from increased capacity and cost savings.

At Celesio UK we talk about transforming healthcare, but that doesn’t mean doing things differently just for the sake of it. It’s all about finding new ways to deliver care more effectively, more efficiently and in a way that works for patients.  We see ourselves as an enabler for the NHS to tackle some of their key challenges.

Outsourcing of out-patient dispensary services has already been proven to help reduce waiting times, boost operational efficiencies and improve the financial position in hospitals. Through LloydsPharmacy, we already provide these services to over 50 hospitals and we know first-hand the benefits of working more closely with the NHS.

We are experts in pharmacy — it’s what we do best — and by partnering with Trusts we can put our knowledge and skills to use in the dispensaries. We’ve been able to save Trusts an average of £1.5m per year (based on analysis of current LLP contracts), as well as significantly reducing waiting times to an average of 10-15 minutes.

A crucial benefit of outsourcing this service is that Trusts can speed up patient discharge, reducing bed stays by one day per patient through community dispensing of discharge medicines (based on the dispensing of complex CDS trays in community versus in hospital environment), thereby freeing up valuable bed space.

Perhaps with results like this we are reaching a critical point in out-patient pharmacy. It’s hard to ignore both the clinical and commercial benefits that come from partnerships like ours – harnessing the expertise and operational excellence of our teams.

Outsourcing out-patient dispensing to providers like us allows hospital staff to be redeployed to do what they do best, providing clinical support at the bedside.

This increased capacity and financial saving can then be reinvested into improving the patient experience and means that the hospital teams can concentrate on ward based patients who need support with managing their medicines and also supporting the clinical team on medicines optimisation.

Recently, the NHS London Procurement Partnership (LPP) introduced a national framework for hospitals looking to work with external healthcare providers to outsource elements of care. This framework covers all of the elements of the Lord Carter Operational Review that are related to outsourcing pharmacy activity. LloydsPharmacy has been appointed as a preferred supplier of dispensing services which means it is faster and easier than ever before for us to set up new working relationships with Trusts.

We can now set up a new out-patient dispensary in as little as 16 weeks. This speed to action means Trusts can start to realise savings and long term, tangible benefits, even quicker. In fact, Trusts could realistically enjoy full-year financial benefit to support the 2018 CIP.