Pharma IQ Members

New Medicine Service will save NHS England £500m

Katie Sadler
Posted: 09/11/2017

Study reveals UK pharmacy scheme will provide long-term savings for National Health Service (NHS) England

A Department of Health pharmacy service designed to help UK patients with their medicine schedules will save NHS England £517.6m in the long-term, finds study carried out by experts from the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham, University College London and a Patient and Public Representative.

Launched in 2011, the New Medicine Service (NMS) is a free scheme for patients who are prescribed a medicine to treat long-term conditions for the first time.

Research reveals a 10 per cent increase in medicine adherence since the scheme launched. To date, NMS has saved NHS England £75.4m.  

Investing in better patient adherence 

Community pharmacists, who are given £24.60 each time a consultation takes place, provide information and advice on side effects, fitting medication around lifestyle and continued treatment.

The service is available for patients with conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and those prescribed blood-thinning medicines.


Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Professor Rachel Elliott from The University of Manchester, said, “On the basis of the evidence we have gathered for this research, we strongly recommend that NMS should continue to be commissioned in the future.

“Our study suggests NMS increased patient medicine adherence compared with normal practice, which translated into increased health gain at reduced overall cost.

“We believe these findings are likely to have applicability to other health care systems, including those based on insurance.”

The study reveals 3.59 million consultations have been claimed for between the NMS launch in 2011 and August 2016.  According to the Business Services Authority,  91.2 per cent of the community pharmacies in England, had delivered the NMS to at least one patient between November 2011 and January 2014.

Professor Elliot believes results of the study could be conservative due to “probable patient recruitment bias, use of self-report of adherence, and the assumption that all the patients in the intervention arm actually received the NMS.”

Non-adherence and its financial burdens

Non-adherence is particularly common in COPD where only 33 per cent of patients continue with their medicines after 10 weeks. This can also be seen in conditions such as schizophrenia where the figure is 52 percent, asthma: 67 per cent and diabetes 78 per cent.

Previous research revealed non-adherence related to  five diseases - asthma, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol/coronary heart disease, hypertension and schizophrenia - cost NHS England over £930m per year, reducing quality of life for patients, increasing hospitalization and premature deaths.

Katie Sadler
Posted: 09/11/2017