16 November 2023

A scathing Parliamentary report investigating shortcomings in homecare medicines services has vindicated patients and clinicians who have been raising the alarm about the safety and reliability of services.

After a 13-month BSR-led campaign the report, Homecare Medicines Services: An opportunity lost, found that “serious problems with the provision and governance of these services are preventing the system from reaching its full potential” and that the House of Lords (HoL) Public Services committee were “..persuaded by the weight of evidence from service users that there are real and serious problems in the sector.”

Speaking about the publication of the report BSR CEO Sarah Campbell said:

“BSR members and their patients, who work with and rely upon homecare medicines services, have been vindicated. The chaotic and disjointed nature of the homecare system has been clearly highlighted and the voice of patients and clinicians has finally been heard.”

In their findings, the committee commented on problems in the sector including transparency, accountability, reliability, regulation, recourse for patients, and cost-effectiveness for the NHS. In a damning indictment of the status quo the report set out a series of hard-hitting recommendations for immediate application by the NHS, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), and the regulators outlined below:

  • A full-scale Government-sponsored independent review of the overly complex homecare system, to be initiated no later than April 2024.
  • The NHS to designate a named individual to be appointed and appropriately supported to lead and take responsibility for homecare medicines services.
  • NHS England to identify how many patients have become unwell or have been harmed because of a failure in homecare services.
  • A review of the regulatory regime for homecare medicines services [where a] lead regulator should be identified with the skill and the expertise to take action against providers that are underperforming.
  • NHS England to develop and implement a uniform set of performance metrics for the homecare industry and for these to be consistently published in a standardized form.
  • Improvement of patient recourse and complaints systems through the initiation of a thematic review of homecare by the Care Quality Commission (CQC)
  • Government to take responsibility of the response by making a ministerial statement on the [report’s] findings and proposed actions for NHS England's work on homecare.

The report also set out crucial longer-term recommendations addressing e-prescribing, IT interoperability, and support for NHS homecare teams, to support trusts in the management and procurement of homecare contracts and reduce the burden on clinical teams interacting with homecare services during the systems review.

Commenting on the report's recommendations Sarah Campbell said:

“This report has addressed all of the major themes set out by BSR and our members and we’re calling for their immediate and in-full adoption by all the relevant bodies, including the chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England, David Webb, and the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Victoria Atkins MP. This is an important moment in the evolution of homecare services, and it must serve as a catalyst for the long-term improvement both patients and clinicians want to see.”

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