NHS in Croydon launch a major initiative to reduce medicine waste that could save millions

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It is estimated that as many as half of all patients do not take their medicines as prescribed. These wasted medicines cost the NHS in London alone an estimated £39.4million every year.

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Over 5% of emergency admissions to hospital are a direct result of misused medicines, and a further 17% can be indirectly linked to people not taking their medicine properly.

NHS Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which took over commissioning of NHS services in the borough at the beginning of April, is asking patients on repeat medicines to:

  • check if they already have enough medicine before ordering more
  • speak with their GP or pharmacist if they have any difficulty or have, for any reason, stopped taking the medicine they have been prescribed.

Eileen Callaghan, Chief Pharmacist said: “Croydon CCG wants to support patients to get the best use out of their medicines.”

There are a number of reasons why people might not take their medicines properly, including:

  • belief that the medicine is not working or is not necessary
  • possible side effects
  • problems fitting medicines into the daily routine
  • choosing between medicines if patients feel they are taking too many
  • cutting down or stopping medicines they have been taking for a long time.

“We want patients to discuss any concerns about their medicines with their doctor or pharmacist,” Eileen explained.

“One of the biggest problems is with repeat prescriptions, which are ordered and collected by patients or carers but then not used. We ask patients on repeat prescriptions to think about what they are ordering and only ask for what they need and are running out of. Many people do not realise that once medicines have left the pharmacy they cannot be re-used.

“Any of the medicines on repeat prescriptions can be ordered and dispensed when needed at a later date. Remember: medicines which are no longer needed should be returned topharmacies so that they can be safely disposed of.

“Keeping medicines in the home which are no longer needed could result in patients taking the wrong medication or the wrong dose.”

Posters and leaflets will be displayed in pharmacies and GP practices to raise awareness of medicine waste among both patients and carers. Further information may also be found on the national website http://www.medicinewaste.com.


Notes for editors

1. CCGs were established under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. From April 2013, they became responsible for commissioning most health services for their area, although NHS England (previously known as the NHS Commissioning Board) is responsible for commissioning primary care services and other specialist services.

2. For more information about Croydon CCG visit http://www.croydonccg.nhs.uk

3. For media queries relating to Croydon CCG, email media(at)swlondon(dot)nhs.uk or call 020 3458 5717.

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Jan James