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Prison healthcare team picks up top national award for patient safety

July 21 2017

Healthcare professionals at HMP Stafford have been praised by judges at the prestigious HSJ Patient Safety Awards for delivering positive change to the prison community.

They triumphed against nine other finalists in the Improving Safety in Medicines Management category at the awards ceremony in Manchester which celebrated outstanding practice within the NHS.

Commissioned by NHS England (North Midlands), the Care UK healthcare team at HMP Stafford, which comprises doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and other clinicians, offers prisoners a wide variety of vital care and supports them to manage their long-term conditions. This often involves multiple medications and repeat prescriptions.

Healthcare assistant Angela Owen identified that the process for managing repeat prescriptions could be made more efficient. She spearheaded a new initiative which involved updating procedures and creating a single point of contact with the aim of improving outcomes for patients.

Before the launch, patients were consulted on the proposed changes through the prisoner and council healthcare forum. Their feedback helped to shape the new processes and many prisoners have commented positively about the improved pharmacy services.

New prisoners are now informed about how to order their medication as they arrive and this is explained in more detail during their induction. There is also further guidance displayed on posters and in the medication application forms.

The new system has reduced errors by 84 per cent and significantly reduced patient queries relating to medication – from an average of 12 per month to between five and zero. It has been praised by NHS England’s regional pharmacy advisor and the prison’s external medicines supplier for being an example of best practice.

It is so successful that Angela is now collaborating with Care UK’s national lead pharmacist to design a formal training programme to be delivered across all 40 prisons, young offender institutions and immigration centres that the organisation provides healthcare in.

Lorraine Mcmullen, regional manager for Care UK’s prison healthcare services in the Midlands, said: “Angela and the team at HMP Stafford absolutely deserve this award for their innovative management of medications that has improved patient care and the experience of our service. Angela steered this initiative and designed an extremely efficient solution which has helped to make the whole service run more smoothly. We can truly be proud and will continue to progress front-line care in the knowledge that it makes a difference.”

Vikki Taylor, NHS England locality director (North Midlands), said: “This is a justly deserved award and underpins NHS England’s drive to enhance the quality of care for people with long term conditions. Congratulations to Angela for shaping this new approach through successful patient consultation. We look forward to the launch of a training programme so that even more patients can benefit.”

The Care UK team at HMP Stafford was also highly commended in the Best Patient Safety Improvement Team category for its smoking cessation programme. One of the UK’s first smoke-free prisons, the establishment had a high prevalence of tobacco smoking until the team implemented its smoking cessation programme within six months. This was to support the Ministry of Justice’s strategy to improve health and air quality within all prisons in England and Wales.

Visit the Care UK Health Care careers website to find out more about the job opportunities within its Health in Justice services.

Image courtesy of HSJ