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Wrexham Maelor Hospital Pharmacy publishes new edition of esteemed guidelines sold worldwide


A clinical guide that has become a ‘best-seller’ for the Pharmacy Department at Wrexham Maelor Hospital is being published in its fourth edition this month. 

The guide called, The NEWT Guidelines, is a resource for healthcare professionals and carers to help people with swallowing problems. The guide is listed on the essential resources list of UK Medicines Information, as it's become so well-respected and used amongst healthcare professionals across the world. 

Jennifer Smyth, a Pharmacist at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, said: “We’re very proud to see guidance, which started off as a local project, grow to become a recognised reference source which benefits patients and health professionals in this country and across the world. 

“Swallowing problems affect a large number of patients, and it is important to help them take their medicines safely and effectively. These guidelines provide a one-stop-shop for healthcare professionals and carers to find out the information they need on a daily basis when helping people with swallowing problems.” 

The NEWT Guidelines started life over nineteen years ago as a guide for nurses in Wrexham who were caring for patients that were unable to take medicines in tablet form.  

Nurses wanted to know whether it was safe to crush tablets (or to open capsules) so they could administer the medication to patients who had swallowing difficulties or enteral feeding tubes. At the time there was no published information on the subject, yet the same questions kept coming up. Hospital Pharmacist Brenda Murphy therefore collected the answers to the most common questions and developed a set of guidelines for colleagues, covering 84 different drugs. 

This initial work was expanded by her colleague Jennifer with each new query being researched and added to the guidelines. Copies of the guidelines were shared with pharmacists in other centres, in exchange for any local protocols or experience that they could share with the project. As a result of this, the range of medicines covered by the guidelines grew steadily, and by 2006 it covered over 500 different drugs. 

At this point the work was professionally printed and made available for sale for the first time, making it easily available to other health organisations. Around 900 copies were sold, or given to associates and contributors. 

A second, updated edition included information on a further 100 drugs, and has sold around 2,500 copies within the UK and abroad with copies being sent as far afield as Israel, Iceland, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.  

In 2011 the guidelines were released in electronic form as The NEWT Guidelines Website, making the guidelines easily available to any health organisation, and allowing them to be easily updated so that subscribers have immediate access to the latest information. 

With the third edition, published in 2015, still in demand, Wrexham Maelor Hospital Pharmacy Department has updated the book to produce a fourth edition, giving hard-copy users access to all the updated information from the website.