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Medicines Waste - don't just tick the box Posted on 25 Apr 2016

Health chiefs at NHS Warwickshire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have launched a campaign to reduce the millions of pounds wasted on unused medication and help patients to make the most of their prescriptions.

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The CCG faces an annual medicines waste bill of around £3.5 million as a direct result of medicines that go unused in the region. This money could go towards funding other vital healthcare in Nuneaton, Bedworth and North Warwickshire.

Helping patients to take their medicines at the right time, and in the right way, is one of the great challenges that the NHS faces. It is estimated that at any one time £90 million worth of unused prescription medicines are being retained in individual’s homes across the UK. A report by the Department of Health estimates that unused medicines cost the NHS around £300 million every year, with an estimated £110 million worth of medicine returned to pharmacies.

Medicines are wasted for various reasons such as; patients experiencing side effects which require a change in prescription or patients’ medical conditions may get worse, requiring different medication. Other reasons include; patients worrying about running out of medication and so ordering too much, forgetting how much they have in the house or actually need, or not wishing to tell the doctor they have stopped taking their medicine.

Dr Deryth Stevens, Clinical Chair of NHS Warwickshire CCG, said:

“Medicine waste is a serious and growing problem in the NHS, but around 50% of medicine waste is preventable. So, the good news is that patients, GPs and pharmacists can make a huge difference by working together to manage medicines more effectively.

“It’s important that patients have regular reviews of their medicines and discuss any issues they may have with their medication with their GP, nurse or pharmacist.  Patients should always let their GP or pharmacist know if they are having difficulty, or have stopped taking their medicines. If medicine is left unused, this could lead to worsening symptoms and extra treatments that could have been avoided.

“By reducing the amount of medicines being wasted each year, we could increase the available funding for other desperately needed health services.  We would urge patients on repeat prescriptions to check what medicines they have at home before re-ordering and only ask for what they need.”


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