Vision

Our vision is to re-energise the pharmacy sector and push for equal patient rights. We will provide healthcare-related information to anyone who needs it, in a language they understand. After all, those who are empowered can take command of, and responsibility for, their own health.

Industry

Pharmacists and pharmacy owners have a duty to provide a level of service that is standardised by the regulator, which means equal access to all for their services.

Community pharmacy is an essential primary healthcare service responsible for supplying quality medicines to the public. Pharmacists ensure it is within the law, that the medicine is suitable for the patient, and gives advice on medication and general health. Medicines accounted for over 12% of the NHS' £104.3 billion budget for 2011. In the same year, the NHS spent £877.2 million in dispensing fees alone on 850 million prescription items.

There are approximately 14,137 pharmacies throughout the UK, which include; community, hospital, private (non NHS) and internet pharmacies. Pharmacies that only offer private treatment make up a marginal fraction of this number.

Problem

Social determination: Inability to speak English in the UK has a direct negative impact on such a person's health.

In November 2008, Professor Sir Michael Marmot chaired an independent review to propose the most effective evidence-based strategies for reducing health inequalities in England.

A consistent reason for suffering ill health was being of ethnic descent. Furthermore, "The Single Equality Bill places a duty on public bodies to promote equality, including the publication of information on progress on reducing inequalities in outcomes". The government's most recent white paper recognises that the burden of disease is higher in ethnic minorities and calls for action to reduce inequalities in minority communities.

Medication compliance is essential for effective treatment and patient compliance is integrally linked to the patient's understanding of their medicines. Furthermore, we know that a patient's inability to understand English leads to compliance problems, naturally causing medication errors and adverse drug reactions. Patients that are unable to speak English are also less likely to understand their doctors, pharmacists and written instructions.

A pharmacist understands the ethical dilemma ethnic minorities with limited English ability present as they are unable to properly counsel them. Furthermore, there is a lack of clear advice to these pharmacists from the regulator and professional bodies, who offer no more than a symbolic "do your best".

Solution

Giving the patient information in a language they understand.

We propose to address some of the inequality described above by providing a bi-lingual dispensing label at the pharmacy. This will have many benefits for the parties involved.

Providing a dual language label can reduce the risk of harm to the patient as they can read the instructions and warnings on the label, thereby empowering the patient and making them independent of interpreters/translators. All patients can become confused when brands of medicines are switched. This problem is further compounded for those with a limited ability to read English, hence; translation has obvious benefits in this regard and ensures the continuation of optimal pharmaceutical care.

A dual language label will ensure transparency by having a documented record that all parties involved in patient care can understand and refer to at any time. Giving the patient the ability to contribute to their own medical care gives them ownership of the problem, making them more proactive and more likely to be compliant with their medication, ultimately saving the NHS money. Furthermore, the White Paper emphasizes "more personalised, preventive services that are focused on delivering the best outcomes for citizens - our software will personalise the pharmacy label for patients in their favoured language.

In the USA, the State of New York City has adopted the recommendations, passing bills making it mandatory for pharmacies to provide translated labels when requested by a patient. This may be a sign of things to come in the UK in the next 10 years.

NHS

Adverse drug reactions cost the NHS £466 million and lead to 1 in 16 hospital admissions each year. Unused dispensed medication costs the NHS an estimated £300 million. A further £500 million is wasted by the NHS because patients are not taking their medicines properly and are not getting the full benefit.

These numbers are based upon reported incidents. Considering a large number of incidents may go unreported, the actual figures could be higher.

Within the ethnic minority community, some of this will be due to misunderstanding the pharmacy label. A translated label and information leaflet can be very beneficial in addressing this matter and will end up saving the NHS much needed funds during these difficult times.

NHS's attitude is changing towards BME groups, but there is much red tape and bureaucracy to get past. They have tried to overcome the problem, however, as stated previously, there are still flaws in the service. Our solution solves one of these at an affordable cost.