BACKGROUND Patient medicines helpline services (PMHS) have been established at some National Health Service (NHS) hospitals, to provide patients with post-discharge medicines-related support . However, findings suggest that many PMHS are provided sub-optimally due to a lack of resources . This study sought to examine pharmacy professionals' perceptions of the future of PMHS .
METHODS Participants comprised pharmacy professionals from NHS Trusts in England that provided a PMHS . Invitations to participate in a qualitative survey and then an interview were sent to pharmacy services at all NHS Trusts that provided a PMHS . This resulted in 100 survey participants and 34 interview participants . Data were analysed using Braun and Clarke's inductive reflexive thematic analysis .
RESULTS Two themes were generated: Enhancing value for service users and Improving efficiency . Enhancing value for service users identifies pharmacy professionals' suggestions for improving the value of PMHS for service users . These include providing access methods extending beyond the telephone, and providing patients/carers with post-discharge follow-up calls from a pharmacist to offer medicines-related support . Improving efficiency identifies that, in the future, and in line with NHS plans for efficiency and shared resources, PMHS may become centralised or provided by community pharmacies . Centralised services were considered to likely have more resources available to provide a patient medicines information service compared to hospital pharmacies . However, such a change was perceived to only increase efficiency if patient information can be shared between relevant healthcare settings .
CONCLUSIONS PMHS are perceived by pharmacy professionals as likely to become centralised in the future (i.e., provided regionally/nationally). However, such change is dependent upon the sharing of patients' information between hospitals and the centralised hub/s or pharmacies . To enhance the value of PMHS for service users, providers should consider establishing other methods of access, such as email and video consultation . Considering the uncertainty around the future of PMHS, research should establish the best way to support all patients and carers regarding medicines following hospital discharge.