A “ground-breaking” scheme which aims to improve patient safety by ensuring better communication between GPs and pharmacists is to be piloted by health boards in Scotland.

The Scottish Patient Safety Programme Primary Care, run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland has been awarded £450,000 over two years to test the scheme.

HIS said that the majority of patient consultations are safe but that some hospital admissions are due to the adverse effects of medication.

Research has revealed that up to 5 per cent of prescriptions contain an error, HIS said.

It is hoped the new scheme will reduce the risk of harm to patients through issues such as prescribing discrepancies which can happen when patients are discharged from hospital.

Jill Gillies, who leads the SPSP in Primary Care team, said: “Our main aim is to improve and bridge the gap in relations between pharmacists and GPs.

“We know, for example, that pharmacists are not contacted after a patient is discharged from hospital. Yet they have a vital role to play in ensuring the prescription is safely dispensed to assist in the patient’s ongoing treatment.

“Under this initiative, the pharmacists would take charge of undertaking accurate and consistent medication monitoring.

“This could happen after someone has been discharged from hospital or when someone is prescribed a high-risk medicine, such as warfarin.”

She added: “This is a ground-breaking project that aims to strengthen the link between GPs and pharmacists - it clearly demonstrates the commitment of the SPSP in Primary Care team to explore innovative ways to improve patient safety in Scotland.”

The funding has come from the Health Foundation, an independent charity working to improve the quality of healthcare in the UK.

The programme will be tested over two years by three NHS boards, which are still to be decided.

It is intended that the programme will be trialled across both rural and urban locations before being evaluated by NHS Education for Scotland and the University of Strathclyde to see if it is robust enough to be rolled out nationally.

Dr Jo Bibby, director of strategy at the Health Foundation, said: “We are very pleased to support Healthcare Improvement Scotland in this first of its kind collaboration that has potential to play a major role in improving patient safety.

“We are confident the new programme will be welcomed extremely positively by all within the healthcare sector and will make a valuable contribution in reducing harm to patients in Scotland.