Cutting medicine waste in West Norfolk could mean more nurses, more hip replacements or more cataract operations

wasted medicines

wasted medicines - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A campaign aimed at reducing unnecessary waste has been launched today, (Wednesday October 22), in West Norfolk.

Local health chiefs estimate that over £1 million is lost each year in West Norfolk through medicine wastage.

The campaign launched by NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group calls upon patients to:

· Only order what you need

· Return unwanted medicines to your pharmacy for safe disposal

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· Take your medicines with you when you go to hospital

Dr Paul Williams, West Norfolk CCG’s Governing Body member responsible for Prescribing and Education, said: “One of the biggest problems is repeat prescriptions which are ordered and collected by patients but then not used. Everything is automatically ordered by carers on behalf of patients without reviewing the need.

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“Unused medicines in the home may mean that patients are not getting the benefit they could from their prescriptions. We think that wasted medicine in West Norfolk costs just over £1million a year and £4.9million across Norfolk. At any one time £90 million worth of surplus prescription medicines are being retained in individual’s homes across the UK. With a few simple considerations, patients could help save the NHS millions each year.”

The £1 million that could potentially be saved across West Norfolk through better medicine management could be spent on:

· 41 more nurses OR

· 1,056 more drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s OR

· 70 more drug treatment courses for breast cancer OR

· 285 more hip replacements OR

· 1,099 more cataract operations

Ben Ampomah, West Norfolk CCG Community Pharmacist, said: “We want patients on repeat prescriptions to think about what they are ordering and only ask for what they need and are running out of. Any of the medicines can be dispensed when needed at a later date, as once medicines have been dispensed, they cannot be recycled.

“In addition, everyone involved in prescribing, dispensing or reviewing medicines has a responsibility to make sure that patients are involved in making decisions about their treatment and that more medicines are taken as recommended.”

Around half of the UK population do not take or use their medicines as prescribed. This can occur for a number of reasons, including:

· 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

The pharmacist from whom you obtain your medicine can help you with these issues by conducting a Medicines Usage Review (MUR).

Health professionals across West Norfolk have joined forces in a bid to inform patients about their treatment and to help people understand more about their medicines and the options they have. 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

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