What’s the problem?
This week we were visited by the prescribing advisor whose main purpose was to advise us about how we can prescribe more economically and reduce waste with the aim of reducing our drugs bill.
I remember when I was a trainee GP ( now known as GP registrars) and worked in a large practise in Bridgend. It was a large detached house in the middle of the town and at the front door there was a large holly bush. A decision was made to cut the bush down to whitewash the exterior of the house and low and behold, behind the bush it was jam packed with prescriptions where patients had taken them from the doctor and then pushed them behind the bush on leaving the surgery! Doctors on a regular basis were prescribing to humour the patient and patients were taking them to humour the doctor!
I found a picture without holly bush!!
Aswell as being made aware that a lot of medication never got dispensed I also discovered
that when I visited patients homes I was frequently shown carrier bags of unused medication often out of date by years!! Now if a patients medical condition doesn’t improve one of the first questions is “have you taken the medication as I suggested?”
Not only does it mean that that their symptoms can get much worse if left untreated – the latest Department of Health report suggests this can cost the NHS many, many millions in avoidable extra treatment costs – it also means that these medicines cannot be used again and need to be incinerated.
The potential money wasted on medicines across Greater London, could pay for;
• 13,484 hip replacements
• 16,892 knee replacements
• 1,963 community nurses
• 3,300 drug treatment courses for breast cancer
• 50,000 more drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s
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, £90 million worth of unused prescriptions being stored in homes and £50 million worth of medicines disposed of by Care Homes.
It is also of interest that the biggest financial and carbon savings came from reducing drugs wastage.
Why do patients not take their medication?
The reasons why patients don’t take all their medication can vary and audits have shown that around half of all the medication returned had not even been opened. This means that patients are ordering and receiving medication that they don’t even start to use.
Other reasons include:-
* patients not believing the medicine is necessary;
* possible side effects;
* fitting taking or using medicines into daily routines;
* choosing between medicines if patients’ feel they are taking too many
* cutting down or stopping medicines they have been taking for a long time..
How Can You Help?
There are a number of ways that you can help to reduce the issue of wasted medicines and save money for your local NHS.
- Please let your GP or Pharmacist know if you’ve stopped taking any of your medicines
- Check what medicines you still have at home before re-ordering. Discuss your medication with your GP or Pharmacist on a regular basis
- Think carefully before ticking all the boxes on your repeat prescription forms and only tick those you really need
- If you don’t need the medicine please don’t order it! If you need the medicine in the future you can still request it.
- If you need to go into hospital, please remember to take all your medicines with you in a clearly marked bag.
- Please also remember that your medicines are prescribed only for you; it’s not safe to share them with anyone else.
- Even if you never open them, once medicines have left the Pharmacy, they cannot be recycled or used by anyone else.
- Please bring your unused medicines to the Pharmacy for safe disposal.
- NEVER dispose of your unused or unwanted medicines down the toilet
- Unused medicines are a safety risk
- If your medicines change – return your old medicines to the pharmacy for safe disposal to avoid mixing them up with your new medicines
- Don’t stockpile medication – it is a safety risk for children and others who might take them
- Store medicines in an appropriate place out of reach of children
Addressing asthmatics – please don’t use your volumatic as a mini cold frame in the garden (as one asthmatic confessed to doing after being challenged about his excessive demands for repeat prescriptions)- this is the proper use
DURING JULY THERE WILL BE A MARKED BIN IN THE SURGERY WAITING ROOM TO COLLECT UNWANTED OR STOCKPILED OUT OF DATE MEDICATION
- On a final note……
When you use your asthma inhaler there is no need to squirt a dose into the air before using it!!
posted by Dr Bayer