Wasted medicines do no-one a favour and take resources away from NHS priorities

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A campaign aimed at cutting the huge waste of valuable NHS medicines across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is about to be launched. It has been estimated that around £6million of prescription medicines go unused across the area each year.

Local patients, pharmacists and GP practices are all being encouraged to play their part in reducing this waste. Patients are being asked to check pharmacy bags for unwanted items straightaway, before they leave the pharmacy, and let their doctor or pharmacist know if they don’t need any of the medicines they are receiving.

Pharmacist Dr Manir Hussain, Deputy Director for Primary Care and Medicines Optimisation for the area’s CCGs said: “The waste is twofold – it’s a waste of money that could be used on improving health services, and it is also a waste of perfectly good medicines – we have strict quality control of medicines in the NHS which mean that once they leave the pharmacy they can never be reissued. Even if they are returned five minutes later there is no option but to destroy them.”

“We encourage the public, pharmacies and GP practices to get involved in the campaign and to do their bit to help reduce the amount of medicines wasted across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.”

Patient Joan from Leek is supporting the campaign. She said: “I now have complex health needs and have taken medicines since I was a child. I now take a variety of different medicines which have changed over time.

“I have to admit that in the past I have had repeat prescriptions for medicines I didn’t need anymore. I am now always careful and make sure that I check what is in the bag before I leave the pharmacy. I don’t always ask for a repeat prescription for all my medicines, just those I am running short of.”

GP Dr Mo Huda, who is Chair of Cannock Chase CCG said: “Patients need the right quantity of the right medicines. But it is no-one’s interest for patients to have too many medicines or medicines they no longer take.

“Increasingly we are seeing GP practices employing specialist Prescribing Clinical Pharmacists who can carry out medicines reviews to ensure patients are getting the medicines they need in the right quantity, and this is one way we will tackle this problem. However we still need some real teamwork involving GPs, patients and community pharmacists working together to cut this waste.”

Tania Cork, Community Pharmacist and Chief Officer of the North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: “The headlines keep telling us the NHS is under pressure. The campaign is trying to help with this by reducing the amount of medicines that are given to patients but not used.

“Community pharmacy teams can offer advice and information about your medicines, so to take part in this important campaign, please talk to us next time you come in to collect your medicines. We can discuss any medicines that you no longer need, and together help to save the local NHS some of the £6m per year that is wasted on unused medicines.”