People in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are being urged not to waste their medication – which costs the local NHS approximately £2 million a year.
Finances in the NHS in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – like elsewhere in the country – are already stretched and people are encourged to play their part to help improve the situation by only ordering the medication they really need. The money saved could be reinvested in vital, local health care services. The staggering figure includes prescription medication left languishing and unused in homes, that end up being returned to the pharmacy.
One group of people from Saltash, who are members of the Patient Participation Groups attended an information and awareness event earlier this year arranged by Port View Surgery.
As a result they are so concerned about the cost to the local NHS through wasted prescriptions they are helping run a campaign called #everybodywins which will be launched across the town this October to raise awareness.
#everybodywins encourages people to speak to their GP or pharmacist if they have any difficulty or have stopped taking any of their medication.
The cost of medicines that aren’t taken is also wasted money as they are incinerated or buried in landfill sites and once a medicine is dispensed it cannot be reused. Also, if we don’t take our prescribed drugs properly, this could impact on our health and ultimately lead to unnecessary treatments.
GPs understand that people sometimes struggle with taking their medications for a variety of reasons.
They could be worried about the side effects, don’t think that they are working, or find it difficult to remember to take them at the right time.
Dr Josh Hamilton, from Saltash Health Centre, said: “Please only order what you need when you need it. If your prescription request is generated by someone other than you, ensure you check your order before you leave the chemist so that medicines not required can be returned and reused. Your local pharmacist can also help you manage many common health complaints without you requiring a doctor’s appointment.”
He added: “People shouldn’t be afraid to tell their GP or pharmacist if they have stopped taking their medicines or no longer want to take them – we are here to help and discuss the best option for them and their health.”
Peter Thistlewaite, PPG member from Port View said “In discussions earlier this year among patients at Port View Surgery, several people commented on the apparent wastefulness in the way some prescriptions are dealt with. Of most concern were repeat prescriptions which were made up when not actually needed, and also cheap drugs eg paracetamol, being prescribed at a very high cost to surgeries when available at small cost to individuals in supermarkets. It was felt that all this was wasting the precious resources of the NHS, and that action was needed to change the system.
If the #everybodywins campaign is a success in Saltash then the hope is that it will be rolled out to other parts of the county.