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Community pharmacy

Campaign launched to clamp down on medicines waste before patients leave the pharmacy

NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has launched a campaign to help reduce the estimated £2m that is wasted on unused medicines each year across its area.

Paula Wilkinson, chief pharmacist at NHS Mid Essex CCG

Source: NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group

Paula Wilkinson, chief pharmacist at NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said the scheme would encourage pharmacists to ask patients whether they already have the medicine that they are dispensing before they leave the pharmacy

A year-long campaign has been launched in Essex to clamp down on medicines waste by encouraging patients to check their prescriptions before they leave the pharmacy.

NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group launched the campaign, called ‘Your Medicines, Your NHS’ to raise awareness of the estimated £2m worth of medicines it says is wasted across it patch.

The campaign encourages patients to ‘open the bag’ when handed their prescription by the pharmacist to ensure that they do not take home any medicines that they already have. This ensures that the patient can hand back the unneeded medicines before they leave the pharmacy which means that the medicines can be put back into stock, rather than destroyed.

“We also ask that non-dispensed items on the prescription are communicated back to the GP practice so that the patient’s GP record can be updated accordingly,” said Paula Wilkinson, chief pharmacist of NHS Mid Essex CCG.

“If a patient pays for a prescription we would ask that they check their medicine bag before paying as this will avoid the need to reimburse.”

The CCG is providing community pharmacies with the promotional material to help spread its ‘open the bag’ message to all patients in its area obtaining prescription medicines from their pharmacy.

Wilkinson said: “We would expect to start seeing savings from the end of May 2019 using this data, due to the lag time for obtaining prescription item data from NHS Digital. However, the full savings achievement for the year will not be realised until 2020.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206296

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