Drive to end £1m waste

PUBLISHED: 15:55 09 November 2007 | UPDATED: 23:08 28 May 2010

WASTED medication in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire is costing the health service more than £1MILLION a year. Patients throw away about £1 in every £20 spent on prescribed medicines - money which could be used for vital services. A major campaign is bein

WASTED medication in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire is costing the health service more than £1MILLION a year.

Patients throw away about £1 in every £20 spent on prescribed medicines - money which could be used for vital services.

A major campaign is being launched today to help cut medicine wastage. Pharmacists will be talking to customers in an effort to tackle the problem.

Health chiefs say the money could pay for 284 more hip replacements or 199 more heart bypass operations or 1,989 more cataract operations or 43 more community nurses.

The East Cambridgeshire and Fenland medicines budget is £28million - the £1.4m wasted each year is almost four per cent of that budget.

Chief pharmacist for the PCT, Sue Ashwell, said: "It is an astonishingly high sum of money to literally be wasting, and money that we could redirect to provide other vital healthcare."

Once medicines have been dispensed they cannot be recycled and have to be thrown away, whether used or not.

Top of the list for 'dumped' medicines are asthma inhalers with cholesterol drugs coming next, followed by medicines for osteoporosis.

Ms Ashwell said: "We do not want patients to stop taking medicines that their doctors have prescribed, far from it, but we would like them to check what they have in their cupboards and drawers before ordering repeat prescriptions.

"Doctors tell us that they do not want their patients to take medicines they do not need to take."

Thousand of posters and leaflets are being distributed to GP surgeries and pharmacies, and information leaflets will be put into prescription bags.

The campaign will run throughout November and December. Those with unwanted medicines can return them to local pharmacies or dispensing practices where they will be disposed of safely.

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