Prescribed medicine waste costs NHS £5.5million a year in Devon

PUBLISHED: 19:59 08 November 2016

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Campaigner says health bosses could do more

Patients are urged to play their part in reducing stockpiles of wasted prescription medicines that cost the NHS approximately £5.5million a year in Devon.

But a Sidmouth campaigner says health bosses should be doing more to tackle the problem and estimates a six-figure sum could be saved without the need to close hospital beds or adversely impact patient care.

The NHS Northern Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is taking part in a national drive to reduce annual wastage - equivalent to the cost of 1,000 hip operations or almost 11,000 cataract procedures.

Di Fuller, chairman of the Sid Valley Patient Participation Group, was critical of efforts and suggested a shift in responsibility is needed as, she says, there is currently little incentive for pharmacies to stop unnecessary dispensing.

She said: “There is work that could be done with care homes and pharmacies quite easily that could save quite a lot of money. I would argue we could have made an affect locally – It can be done but it does need more effort on the CCG’s part.

“They could have maybe saved £2-3million on unwanted prescriptions without a huge amount of impact on patient care and without closing community beds.”

The CCG is predicting proposals to close 72 community beds – including 24 in Sidmouth – and reinvesting in a new home-based model of care will save between £2.8million and £5.6million.

Mrs Fuller suggested NHS bosses should focus more on limiting waste rather than cutting ‘vital’ hospital beds and claims that, when the Sid Valley patient group asked for material to raise awareness, it received little support from the CCG.

GP Andrew Rosewarne said the Sid Valley Practice has succeeded in reducing medicine wastage locally by taking a proactive approach and employing a clinical pharmacist to assist with prescribing for patients who require long-term treatment.

A spokesman for the CCG said: “Our campaign ‘Don’t be a hoarder, don’t over order’ is designed to highlight the issue and urge everyone to help to reduce the amount of medication dispensed unnecessarily. Many people won’t see their stockpile of medication as waste, but it’s important that patients only get the medication they actually need.”

Simple steps patients can take:

• Look at your supplies – order only the items that you need.

• Listen to the advice from your doctor, nurse or pharmacist and take all medicines as instructed on the label.

• Tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if your medicines are not agreeing with you or you have stopped taking them.

• Using the counterfoil of the prescription, tick only the medicines you need.

• Open your bag of medication while at the pharmacy. If you have item(s) not requested, or surplus to your needs for the next month, please return these before leaving.

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