Dr Nick Tupper blog: Show the red card to medicines waste

dont-waste-medicines-4a-dsc_20530We want to show the red card to medicines waste in Doncaster – and we need your help.

Our pharmacy experts reckon that every year around £2 million of NHS money is wasted on prescription medicines that are not needed.

At a time when the NHS is having to tighten its financial belt, that’s money that could be spent on caring for patients.

Prescription medicines are one of the biggest costs to the NHS. We currently spend around £60 million on them in Doncaster every year, which is why it’s important that we all look for ways to avoid wasting them.

It’ also important to make sure you don’t leave medicines lying around your house, where they run the risk of being accidentally swallowed by children or other vulnerable people.

We’ve heard stories of people on repeat prescriptions gathering large stocks of medication in their cupboards at home and of not knowing what to do to stop more being dispensed.

So a few months ago we ran an anonymous online survey to gather some local insight into this important issue. Nearly 30 per cent of those who responded told us they had prescription medicines they no longer needed or used.

In the same survey, 83 per cent of people told us they wouldn’t feel awkward about telling their GP or pharmacist that they had stock-piled more medicines than they needed.

So we’ve decided to launch a new campaign, in partnership with local pharmacists, GPs and Club Doncaster, to highlight the problem of medicines waste and to offer an easy way for people to shout out if their medicines are building up beyond what they need.

We’ve enlisted the help of Doncaster Rovers defender Andy Butler, who is also a qualified referee, to front up the ‘show the red card to medicines waste’ campaign, with Doncaster pharmacists Paul Chatterton and Bal Purewal.

Look for their image appearing on posters in local pharmacies and GP surgeries by way of a reminder to cancel your prescription if you don’t need it.

If you, a family member, or neighbour has medication that is piling up, ring our Medline on 01302 566074 and leave your contact details, or tell your GP or pharmacist. By doing so you could save your local NHS £s.

It’s also important to dispose of any unwanted or unused medicines safely once you have been prescribed them. In our survey, people told us they got rid of unwanted medicines in all manner of ways, including flushing them down the toilet, putting them in their dustbin, or hiding them amongst the garden waste in their green bin. Please don’t do any of those.

There is only one safe, recommended means of disposal and that is to take them back to your pharmacist. Even though you may not have opened the packaging, NHS rules mean they cannot be dispensed to anyone else. They have to be destroyed.

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