Wasted medicines are costing your local NHS!

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Do you need everything on your prescription this month?  Please check first....

The NHS is facing significant financial pressure as are other public services across the UK. A significant area where the NHS can save money is on repeat prescriptions, which are ordered and collected by patients but then not used. It is estimated that £90 million worth of unused prescription medicines are retained in individuals homes at any one time!  Money is wasted everyday through patients receiving medicines they don’t really need and will not take.

Paula Wilkinson, Chief Pharmacist, Mid Essex CCG says

“Unwanted medicines in the home may mean that patients are not getting the benefit they could from their medicines and it represents a large amount of waste. We are asking patients on repeat prescriptions to think about what they are ordering and only ask for what they need and are running out of. Any other medicines can be dispensed when needed at a later date. Once medicines have been dispensed and taken home they cannot be recycled.”  

The cost of medicines prescribed in Mid Essex CCG is likely to be over £54 million this year; each day around £145,000 is spent. The amount spent on medicines this year has increased considerably more than the national average. If this continues the CCG will overspend its GP prescribing budget by £1 million by the end of the financial year, which will mean there will be less funding available for other services.

Pharmacists work closely with GPs to make sure medicines which offer the same quality and benefits for patients at a reduced cost are used where appropriate. This approach is due to have saved £2 million by the end of March.  But we need to save more.

What can you do to stop money being wasted in your local Health Service?

You should, before ordering repeat prescriptions, consider

  • whether you actually need a further supply or do you have enough at home? 
  • you do not have to order everything on your repeat prescription every time if you already have enough at home?
  • telling your GP or Pharmacist if you have stopped taking any medicines on your repeat list.  If you need the medicine in the future you can still request it.
  • talk to your GP or pharmacist if you feel that you are not getting the most out of your medicines.

If your medicines are ordered for you as part of a repeat prescription service provided by your community pharmacist, you should still think about the questions above and make sure that you only ask for the items you need.  Check your dispensed medicines before you leave the pharmacy; the pharmacist will only be able to return medicines to their stock if you have not taken it out of the pharmacy.