Hospital pharmacists launch pioneering healthy lifestyle scheme

Inpatients at Southampton’s teaching hospitals are to be offered advice on lifestyle and weight management as part of a radical new project.

Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust’s pharmacy team has invented an innovative plan to tackle obesity during routine risk assessments for venous thromboembolism (VTE), better known as blood clots.

All patients admitted to hospital are susceptible to VTE, which causes an estimated 25,000 preventable deaths per year in England, so safety reviews are now carried out on all inpatients.

Pharmacists conduct these assessments and identify risk factors, such as obesity, that can cause fatal clots.

SUHT is now developing a pilot project in collaboration with primary care services to expand the role of pharmacists, allowing them to advise patients about lifestyle and obesity management as opposed to just recording them as a VTE risk.

Pharmacists will supply appropriate patients with information leaflets about the help available in the community as well as contacting their GP.

If a patient shows interest in improving their health immediately, the pharmacist will offer direct consultation to set them targets and decide on the most appropriate way forward.

Sharron Millen, head of clinical pharmacy at SUHT, said: “We are currently finalising plans to pilot this in the surgical pre-assessment clinic, where we believe active intervention might prevent complications during and after surgery.

“Within the clinic, pharmacists will conduct VTE risk assessments for each patient, which allows them to identify those who might benefit from lifestyle support, i.e. help to lose weight, stop smoking.”

She added: “We hope that by supporting patients who have unhealthy lifestyles and are at high risk of VTE, we can add quality to their care and, in the longer term, reduce their risk of thrombosis and other long-term conditions.”
Posted on Thursday 9 July 2009