What a Waste campaign saves £1.2m in a year

More than £1.2m that would have been needlessly spent on prescription medicines in West Cheshire has been saved in just one year thanks to the public “What a Waste” campaign.

NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group initially asked medicines managers at a small number of GP practices to check whether patients still needed every item on their repeat prescription form. Scores reported that they didn’t.

In January 2017 the initiative was rolled out across all GP practices in West Cheshire and, coupled with public support, savings have since snowballed. In the 12 months to January 2018 a staggering £1.28m was saved.

Local GP Dr Chris Ritchieson, NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s Clinical Chair, thanked local patients, GPs and pharmacists for their ongoing support.

“Every penny wasted on unused prescription medicines could instead be spent on treating those in most need,” he said. “We are extremely grateful for the support we continue to receive from local patients, clinicians and pharmacists.

“Tens of thousands of pounds are being saved every week – at absolutely no detriment to patient care. In fact, by ensuring that people are only prescribed the medication they really need, our What a Waste campaign is helping to improve patient safety too.”

Nationally, unused medicines cost the NHS an estimated £300m a year. This sum could pay for more than 11,000 community nurses or 300,000 drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s.

Even if prescription medicines are unopened, they cannot be recycled or used by anyone else once they have left a community pharmacy – they have to be destroyed.

Dr Ritchieson added: “The last thing we would want is for anyone to think that they suddenly need to stop taking their prescription medication. All we ask is that people check what they have at home before they re-order and think carefully before ticking all the boxes on their repeat prescription form.

“We also ask that people finish the course of medicine they are on, check what’s in their prescription bag before they leave the pharmacy and ensure that repeat prescriptions are regularly reviewed by a pharmacist or GP.”

Date added: 19/02/2018

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