Background: Patient non-adherence to medicines represents a significant waste of health resource and lost opportunity for health gain. Medicine management services are a key health policy strategy to encourage patients to take medicines as they are prescribed. One such service is the English Medicines Use Review (MUR) which is an NHS-funded community pharmacy service involving a patient-pharmacist consultation aiming to improve patients' knowledge of medicines and their use. To date the evidence for MURs to improve patient health outcomes is equivocal and GPs are reported to be sceptical about the value of the service. This paper presents the patient's perspective of the MUR service and focuses on the importance of GP-pharmacist collaboration for patient care. Suggestions on how MURs may have value to GPs through the delivery of increased patient benefit are discussed.
Method: A qualitative study involving ten weeks of ethnographic observations in two English community pharmacies. Observations were made of all pharmacy activities including patient-pharmacist MUR consultations. Subsequent interviews with these patients were conducted to explore their experience of the service. Interviews with the pharmacy staff were conducted after the period of observations. A thematic approach was used to analyse the data.
Results: Fifty-four patients agreed to have their MUR observed of which thirty-four were interviewed. Seventeen pharmacy staff were also interviewed. Patients reported positive views about MURs. However, there was little evidence suggesting that pharmacists and GPs were working collaboratively or communicating outcomes resulting from MURs. MURs were conducted in isolation from other aspects of patient care. Patients considered GPs to have authority over medicines making a few wary that MURs had the potential to cause tensions between these professionals and possibly adversely affect their own relationship with their doctor.
Conclusions: This study reveals the potential for effective GP-pharmacist collaboration to improve the capacity of the MUR service to support patient medicine taking. Closer collaboration between GPs and pharmacists could potentially improve patients' use of medicines and associated health care outcomes. The current lack of such collaboration constitutes a missed opportunity for pharmacists and GPs to work together with patients to improve effective prescribing and optimise patient use of medicines.