Archive | January, 2015

Wonder Drugs Roadshow – a success

23 Jan

Mosi 2014_children buttons activity

Earlier in the year we set ourselves the challenge of getting out to new communities to talk about the Greater Manchester PSTRC’s work on Medication Safety. Our main aim was to show the public how important it is to check their medicines to increase patient safety.

A team soon formed, which included researchers, RUG members and people specialising in public engagement and we dreamt up ideas and created activities that would get people thinking. We wanted to engage with people of all ages and with different interests, so we needed to be inventive.

Our efforts resulted in the Wonder Drugs Roadshow being held as part of Manchester Science Festival.

Our first outing with the roadshow took us to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). Research User Group member Carolyn Gamble had been part of the planning group for the series of events and welcomed the opportunity to be able to facilitate some of the activities at MOSI; “What a fantastic experience, we had hundreds of families join in the activities – literally hundreds!  I had some engaging conversations with people of all ages throughout the day about medication safety.  I mainly facilitated the prescription filling activity whereby people could step into the role of a pharmacist, and fill out a prescription using buttons and a pill box.  Kids of ages were excited  to wear lab coats, read the instructions carefully and fill out the prescription against the clock accurately– many had a return visit to see if they could “beat”  their previous attempt, or each other!   It was loads of fun for everyone involved, whilst at the same time we were able to deliver our medication safety messages to people in a memorable fashion.”

At the Forum Centre in Wythenshawe, latest recruit to the RUG Jackie Nightingale joined us. She said “This was my first experience of being involved in this kind of event and it was a really enjoyable and positive experience. I honestly think that we had a positive impact on those that came to talk to us, in getting them to think more about their own prescriptions, how they are issued and dispensed and the things they can do to look after themselves.”

The final stop on the Roadshow was in Salford, at the Pendleton Gateway Centre. Here we were joined by RUG member Faith Mann who commented; “Pendleton Gateway isn’t the sort of place where people willingly stop to talk to anyone standing behind an exhibition stand, in case they’re trying to sell something, so we had to actively engage passers-by. Once they knew what we were doing, people were happy to stop to talk and try the quizzes.   The most powerful activity was the prescription checking quiz. People were shocked to find they’d missed some of the errors and picked up the message that we need to take responsibility for checking our prescriptions and not leave it all up to the pharmacist and dispenser – lovely though they are!”

Across the three venues we visited we spoke with over a thousand people from different corners of Greater Manchester. Many of whom had stories to tell us about problems they’ve had with their own medicines and they explained to us how they went about dealing with those problems.

We are extremely grateful to Kate Dack and her team from Nowgen for helping to stage this series of events, to the staff and students at Manchester Health Academy School who designed and made artwork about the safety of medicines to showcase at the roadshow and to our own Pharmacist and PhD Student, Hayley Gorton who designed a range of activities to get people actively involved in the work of the PSTRC.

An appeal to GPs, Pharmacists and other healthcare staff

22 Jan

by Professor Aneez Esmail, Director of the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC


I have recently been involved in research that seeks to reduce the amount of drugs that elderly patients are given. We are increasingly aware of the problem of people taking multiple medications and the detrimental effect that this can have on patient’s quality of life and more importantly on the real threats to patient safety that can arise from overprescribing. What has surprised me is the lack of information that exists on prescribing in the elderly – for example, there is very little information from clinical trials to show the efficacy of statins, antihypertensives and treatments for diabetes for patients over the age of 75.

The purpose of this research is to develop a software tool, integrated with the clinical record, to help general practitioners make the decision as to which treatments have an evidence base and the important drug interactions that should sometimes make us question the decision to add another drug to a large number of drugs that many elderly people already take. It forces us to question many of the assumptions that underpin current clinical practice; for example, by looking at whether reducing drugs can improve patient outcomes.

There are other examples of important work that we are involved in – for example trying to develop mechanisms to support general practitioners in making the correct diagnosis. Engaging with us in research provides opportunities to help define the research questions, work at the cutting edge of scientific research and thought, and ultimately begin the process of changing clinical practice.

Most practices that get involved in research usually end up recruiting patients for trials that are testing existing or newly developing treatments. This is important. However working with early stage translational research is a qualitatively different undertaking.  Translational research might appeal to the inquisitive clinician who is always asking questions about ‘why’ certain things happen rather than ‘what’ actually happens.

So this is an appeal to all those inquisitive clinicians and healthcare professionals, working in practices where the day-to-day pressure of work can sometimes overwhelm us. Engaging with research can also impact on our day-to-day clinical work – for example I am already more aware of the problems in prescribing in the elderly and I believe that it has made me a better clinician. Those clinicians who are working with us on diagnostic error are beginning to understand a lot more about what can influence diagnoses. So this is relevant and directly related to patient care.

Most of our research is funded so that we can buy out clinical time and provide clinicians with dedicated time to get engaged with research. It’s interesting and challenging so please, get in touch with us if you want to get involved.

Current opportunities for professionals to get involved:

Missed Diagnostic Opportunities: we need your help

22 Jan

gp2 - we want you

Researchers in the General Practice theme are conducting a large review of patient records to estimate the rate of missed diagnostic opportunities (MDOs) in general practice in England.

What are MDOs?  Researchers are looking at cases where something different could have been done to make the correct diagnosis earlier or where a diagnosis was incorrect.

Identifying, measuring and understanding MDOs in general practice is the first step in developing policies and interventions (e.g. educational resources for GPs) to reduce harm and improve patient safety in this area.  At present there is no reliable estimate of diagnostic error in English general practice with which to formulate any such policies or interventions, hence the need for this work.

General practices: study opportunity

If your practice agrees to participate you are simply agreeing to provide access and space for our study team to conduct the study in your practice.

Specifically, we will provide a specialist administrator who will identify 100 patient records (meeting certain inclusion criteria) from your system which will be retained on-site.  Two GP reviewers will visit the practice on separate occasions at your convenience, to independently work through the list generated by the administrator.

The reviewers will use a structured data collection tool and will not collect any patient identifiable information other than age and gender. They will specifically look at information within the electronic health record to ascertain the underlying diagnostic process. The study will require approximately five days of access for the study team and we will compensate each practice for their participation.

Participation from a large number of practices across Greater Manchester is required – if you and your practice are interested in being involved in this study, please contact Rebecca Morris on 0161 275 0748.

Community pharmacies: we need you!

22 Jan

pharmacist - we want you

Given the vital role in medicines usage, community pharmacies are of particular interest to researchers in the Medication Safety theme.  Many of our studies look at ways to maintain quality and safety in pharmacies, as well as the contribution that pharmacy staff can make to safe use of medicines elsewhere in primary care (for example, providing advice to doctors and patients).

We would like to hear from community pharmacists, technicians, pharmacy assistants and managers who might wish to be involved in the following studies:

  • Piloting methods to assess and improve the culture of safety within pharmacies
  • Understanding the use of rules and guidelines in pharmacy practice
  • Developing methods to identify and manage risk in pharmacies.

In addition, we have an advisory panel to help us with planning and carrying out our studies, which includes healthcare professionals, support staff and members of the public.  We would like people with experience of working in community pharmacy to join this panel – whether they are able to contribute a lot of time or just a small amount.  The commitment is flexible, and members are paid for their time.

For more details on these opportunities, contact Denham Phipps on 0161 275 3680.

GPs wanted to inform patient safety research in primary care

22 Jan

gps - we want you

The Centre is looking to engage with GPs based in Greater Manchester, to inform our future research portfolio.  What do you think are the major issues in patient safety in primary care?  Have you got any ideas for research projects (large or small) that could help improve patient safety in primary care?

We are planning to hold an initial meeting in March 2015 and at this stage are looking for expressions of interest from those who would like to be involved.  To register your interest, please email Gavin Daker-White.

Reasonable expenses will be reimbursed at CRN (Clinical Research Network) rates. This is a centre-wide initiative involving all research themes.