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Help the NHS Save 24 Million Pounds - Don't Waste Medicine

September 01, 2009 2:34 PM

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Almost £500,000 of medicine in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) is thought to be wasted every week …….that’s the equivalent of filling a large skip with expensive medicines and dumping it every single week of the year.

Today NHSGGC is launching a major campaign appealing to the public to help end this preventable drain on NHS resources and help save approximately £24 million every year by not wasting medicines.

Unused medicines cost NHSGGC an estimated £24 million every year and we want patients to help reduce this cost through a number of practical ways. This money could pay for an additional 4,000 hip replacements, 3,000 heart by-pass operations, 620 Physiotherapists, 620 Community nurses or 4,000 knee replacements across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Patients on repeat prescriptions can play a major part in helping us tackle the problem of wasted medicines

Sometimes patients or carers on repeat prescriptions continue to get more medicine than they need.

A few easy steps can make a big difference.

We are asking patients to think about which medicines they need, check what medicines they still have at home before re-ordering and to let their Pharmacist or General Practitioner know if they have stopped taking any medicines on their repeat prescription list.

Another practical measure is to make sure any medicines are taken in date order otherwise they can go out of date and have to be discarded.

These few steps could make a significant difference to the amount of medicines wasted every year.

Margaret Ryan, Lead Pharmacist for NHSGGC’s Central Prescribing Team sees the amount of medicines that are wasted in the Board area and says that each person who takes these few practical steps will make a difference.

She said: “The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Think, Check, Order’. People don’t realise the amount of medicines that are wasted and that medicines cannot be reused or given to anyone else. What we are trying to do is reduce unnecessary waste through practical measures.

“However, it’s not just about only getting medicines that you need. It’s also about how unused medicines are disposed of.

“A lot of people get rid of their unwanted medicines by either flushing them down the toilet or putting them in the bin. Flushing them down the toilet pollutes the water supply and putting them in the bin is dangerous as children or animals could get hold of them.

“The only safe way for people to dispose of unused, unwanted or out of date medicines is to return them to their local pharmacy, where arrangements are in place for their safe destruction.”

Another focus of the campaign is to raise awareness of the dangers of having excess medicines at home. Building up excess quantities causes difficulty storing them all safely out of reach of children and can make it difficult to use them in the correct date order.

Margaret added: “Quite often if patients have too many medicines they can get muddled and it can result in them taking too much of a medicine. If they only have what they need it is safer for them and they are helping us.

“This campaign is one part of ongoing work to address the issue of medicine wastage General Practitioners, Community Pharmacists and their staff already play their part in reducing medicine wastage.”


Notes to Editors:

Once medicines have left a pharmacy they cannot be supplied to anyone else and have to be destroyed whether they have been used or not.

For further information contact 0141 201 4429.

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Last Updated: 06 February 2015