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Safe transfer of care around medicines

Transfer of Care Around Medicines (TCAM) is a process that shares information about a patient’s medicines with their community pharmacist when they leave hospital.

Around 60% of patients have three or more changes made to their medicines during a hospital stay and only one in ten elderly patients return home from hospital taking exactly the same medication as when they were admitted.

When patients leave hospital, they can need extra support with taking their prescribed medicines. Patients tell us they do not always remember everything they are told in hospital, so it can be very helpful to have someone go through it again, discussing potential side-effects and checking they understand how to take their medicines properly.

Patients can experience errors or unintentional changes to their medicines when they move between care providers, presenting a significant risk to patient safety. Research published in October 2016 in the BMJ Open  showed that patients who are followed up by their community pharmacist after discharge from hospital are less likely to be readmitted – and if they do find themselves back in hospital they will experience a shorter stay.

With the patient’s consent, the TCAM process triggers the patient’s community pharmacist to contact them to discuss their medicines with them. This process improves the safe transfer of information about a patient’s medicines and reduces avoidable harm. TCAM is an NHS priority improvement area and a national programme adopted by all 15 AHSNs in England.

The Oxford AHSN helped our partners at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust launch their TCAM initiative in December 2019. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when staff resources were under the highest pressure, the trust focussed on referring the most vulnerable patients. This included care home residents. TCAM is due to go live at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust in autumn 2020. We are also working with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to implement their TCAM solution – in the first instance this service will be solely for patients resident in care homes.