Pilot project for Buckinghamshire Mental Health service improves patient care

Oxford Health Foundation Trust’s pilot project to transform the way clozapine levels are measured will directly benefit patients.

Pilot project for Buckinghamshire Mental Health service improves patient care

(From left to right – Phlebotomy and POCT Manager Clarisse Lagman, Medicines Management Technician Louise Revell, Nurse Charity Jamy)

The new pilot has commenced in the Buckinghamshire Mental Health teams at Oxford Health, introducing Point of Care Testing (POCT) devices for clozapine levels.

Clozapine is the most effective medication for schizophrenia patients who do not respond to treatment with other antipsychotics. Clozapine can cause serious adverse effects often associated with higher blood levels. So, it is recommended clozapine levels are regularly monitored, to guide dosage.

The new pilot uses new technology to measure clozapine levels from a tiny drop of finger prick blood. This means the results are instant, allowing clinicians to immediately adjust the dose if needed and to explain this to the patient. This innovative development sees a wait of up to three weeks reduced to just six minutes – avoiding lengthy waits for a lab result and communicating dosage changes to patients remotely.

Clinical Lead for Pathology, Point of Care Testing and Phlebotomy Matt Atkins said: “So far, the team have received very positive feedback from patients who have highlighted several reasons for preferring finger prick blood testing to the conventional venous blood method. Getting the dosage right for patients is key to their wellbeing.

“We are delighted with the early feedback from patients and hope that this will enhance patient experience and safety – by reducing the waiting times, putting patients at the centre of our care and prioritising their wellbeing and health outcomes.”

Clinical Director Dr Tina Malhotra, on behalf of the Buckinghamshire directorate, is thankful to the team leading this innovative project that could transform the way patients are managed on clozapine. Following evaluation of the project we hope to expand this to other sites.

The project is being led by Mary Ackah, Charity Jamy, Clarisse Lagman, Louise Revell, Fortune Mhlanga, and Matt Atkins, the team at the Whiteleaf Centre.

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Published: 22 May 2024