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Transforming Access to Medicines

Transforming Access to Medicines (TRAMS) is an NHS Wales programme to set up a shared Pharmacy Technical Service for Wales. The Minister for Health and Social Services endorsed the proposed investment of £67m in the new service in an announcement on 17 March 2021.

TRAMS will transform how some of the most innovative and life-saving medicines including cancer therapies, intravenous antibiotics and parenteral nutrition, are prepared.

The five-year Transforming Access to Medicines programme will not only focus on the technical pharmacy services itself, but will also be an investment in people, providing the opportunity for professional leadership and innovation in pharmaceutical treatments.

The sterile preparation of medicines also known as aseptic services is a speciality area within hospital pharmacy services. Aseptic Services are responsible for the development, preparation and supply of unique patient-centred medicines, including the preparation of injectable systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT), preparation of parenteral (intravenous) nutrition for people whose medical condition mean they are unable to absorb nutrients from the food they eat, and radio-pharmaceuticals used in diagnosis and treatment of cancers.

With the advances in medicines that deliver improved outcomes for patients, demand for these critical services have been growing. Currently, much of this work is undertaken in hospitals throughout Wales. 

In order to expand services NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (NWSSP) will develop business cases for the creation of three new integrated regional facilities based in North, South West and South East Wales.

The three regional facilities will increase NHS Wales’ capacity and capability to prepare the medicines people need and will allow the NHS to capitalise on advances in technology and automation improving patient safety and freeing up nurses’ time for patient care.  

Alongside the new facilities, the investment will support transforming the workforce, creating new skilled jobs and boosting productivity. The funding will also create opportunities for collaborations between the NHS and universities supporting clinical trials and research into the development of innovative products that allow medicines to be given at or closer to people’s homes, rather than in hospital. 

The move is a huge step in reaching the goals set out in the ten-year vision document, Pharmacy: Delivering a healthier Wales. The ten-year vision up to 2030 set out a roadmap for ensuring closer collaboration between pharmacy services in hospital, community and primary care to ensure patients benefit from locally provided services. Shifting the focus of hospital teams to respond to changes in the delivery of care and transform access to medicines has been a key part of this vision for pharmaceutical care in Wales.

The new service sits within NWSSP, under the governance of the Shared Services Partnership Committee.

NWSSP expects the service to begin supplying medicine in around 2-3 years’ time, with full implementation complete after 5 years.