The Health and Social Care Board has today launched the first Medicines Formulary website for Northern Ireland. The Formulary is a list of medicines that have been shown to be both clinically effective and safe for patients as well as providing value for money.
Everyone will at some point in their life use a medicine to treat, alleviate or prevent an illness. In 2013/14, 37 million prescription items were dispensed in primary care in Northern Ireland. At any one time, 70% of the population is taking a medicine to treat or prevent ill health or to enhance wellbeing.
The NI Formulary will promote and ensure that patients receive the most effective and safe medicine. It will also mean that patients across Northern Ireland are given the same medicines for the medical conditions covered by the Formulary. Doctors working in both hospital and primary care settings will be prescribing medicines in the same way. The Formulary covers the majority of prescribing decisions for non-specialist prescribing.
Launching the NI Formulary and supporting resources, Health Minister Edwin Poots, said:
“An ageing population and growing prevalence of chronic conditions continues to increase demand on our health service. We know that up to 50 per cent of people do not take their medicines a prescribed and this not only contributes to poor health, but also adds to pressures on our health and social care services.
“We need to focus on patients’ experience of taking medicines, ensuring that they are supported step by step to gain the optimal outcome from the medicines that they use. This will help to reduce waste, as well as improve the health and wellbeing of patients. The NI Medicines Formulary and patient leaflets being launched today will help to achieve this aim, by increasing access to information and supporting self care.”
As part of the developing role of community pharmacies in promoting health and supporting patients manage their conditions, the Board is also launching a Choice and Medication website (www.choiceandmedication.org/hscni/ ) to help individuals with mental health conditions. Many mental health conditions are long term and taking medication can be a lifelong challenge. The website provides information on mental health conditions and the medicines used to treat them, commonly asked questions together with information leaflets.
Aaron Coulter, Community Mental Health Pharmacist, Southern Health and Social Care Trust, said:
“The Choice and Medication website is a valuable information resource for health and social care professionals and those with a mental health condition and their carers. It will greatly help promote informed choice and better understanding of medicines that can be prescribed.”
A series of medicine information leaflets aimed at promoting better engagement with patients, carers and parents about the use of medicines are also being launched today. Over the past year, the Board’s Medicines Management Team has been engaging with patients and carers to promote better understanding of why a medicine has been prescribed, the benefits, and the responsibility of those taking medicines to understand their role and where they can find out further information about a particular medicine if they wish. The leaflets will help to support discussion between patients and their GP or Pharmacist and ultimately promote an effective partnership that will ensure appropriate and effective prescribing.
Speaking at the event, Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management, Health and Social Care Board, said:
“The use of medicines has transformed care for patients. Today’s launch of the Northern Ireland Formulary website will ensure that patients across Northern Ireland receive safe and effective medicines based on best clinical evidence.
“Patients and carers have a vital role to play in managing their medicines and being involved in making decisions about their care. The new Choice and Medication website together with the development of a range of patient leaflets will enable patients to become more informed and involved in the management of their medicines in partnership with prescribers.”