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Patients urged to help the NHS save millions of pounds in Norfolk by cutting medicines waste

PUBLISHED: 15:54 24 October 2014 | UPDATED: 15:54 24 October 2014

Chris Ball, pharmacist at Hurn Chemist in Norwich, who is part of a new campaign urging patients to cut down on wasted medicines. Picture: Supplied

Chris Ball, pharmacist at Hurn Chemist in Norwich, who is part of a new campaign urging patients to cut down on wasted medicines. Picture: Supplied

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Patients have been urged to help save the NHS millions of pounds after it emerged that almost £5m was being lost every year in Norfolk through unused prescription medicines.

Health chiefs have called on patients to only order the drugs they need and to return any unwanted medicines to their pharmacy for safe disposal as part of a new campaign aimed at reducing unnecessary waste.

Four Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) in Norfolk, which are in charge of NHS purse strings locally, have joined forces to urge patients to do their bit to help save health service money.

An estimated £4.9m is lost every year through medicine wastage in Norwich, North Norfolk, West Norfolk and South Norfolk, according to the CCGs.

Ian Small, deputy head of medicines management for Norfolk, said one of the biggest problems was repeat prescriptions being ordered and collected by patients, but then not used.

“Often, everything is automatically ordered by carers or community pharmacists on behalf of patients without checking that they need it.

“Unused medicines in the home may mean that patients are not getting the benefit they could from their prescriptions.

“With a few simple considerations, patients could help save the NHS millions each year,” he said.

An estimated £90m worth of surplus prescription medicines is being retained in people’s homes across the UK.

And around half of the UK population do not take or use their medicines as prescribed because of worries over possible side effects or patients believing the medicine is not necessary.

Patients are being urged to ask for a medicines usage review (MUR) with their pharmacist if they have any concerns.

Chris Ball, a pharmacist at Hurn Chemist in Norwich, 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.”

For more information, visit www.medicinewaste.com


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