Health chiefs declare war on medicines waste

The NHS in England spends a staggering £300m a year on medicines that are never used for various reasons.
In the East Midlands alone, around £30m worth of medicines are wasted every year. That money could pay for approximately 900 community nurses, 6,000 hip replacements, 42,000 cataract operations or 5,400 knee replacements.
Now, NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is to address the issue by launching a high-profile promotional campaign that will run from late March to early June.
The campaign will urge patients who receive regular repeat medicines, carers, GPs and pharmacists to only order the medicines they need. Patients will be asked to tell their doctor or pharmacist if they are being prescribed a medicine they no longer use, and to say if they are experiencing side effects which have stopped them taking their medicine.
The area’s 57 GP practices have been encouraged to support the campaign by mounting eye-catching displays in their surgeries to raise patient awareness of the problem. Community pharmacists will also be supporting the campaign.
Medicines are wasted for various reasons such as patients experiencing side effects which require a change in prescription. Patients’ medical conditions may get worse, requiring different medication. 
Other reasons include patients worrying about running out of medication and ordering too much, forgetting how much they have in the house or actually need, or not wishing to tell the doctor they have stopped taking their medicine.
Dr Sheila Newport, Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said:
“Medicine waste is a serious and growing problem in the NHS. Wasted medicines mean lost opportunities to improve a patient’s health or wellbeing.
“Doctors prescribe medicine in the belief it will relieve symptoms or increase quality or length of life. If that’s not happening, patients need to tell their doctor or pharmacist so a review can be carried out and more effective treatment prescribed.
“Around 50 per cent of medicine waste is preventable so the good news is that patients, GPs and pharmacists can make a huge difference by working together to manage medicines more effectively.”
Developed with the Local Pharmaceutical Committee, the campaign will use traditional and social media to share key messages with the public and health community. Other elements of the big push will include road shows; and posters and leaflets in GP surgeries, hospitals, community centres, libraries, leisure centres and care homes. Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council will also support the effort in their print and online media. 
Around £30m is spent each year in the East Midlands on medicines that are never used. Find out how to help us tackle this waste (link to release).
The NHS could perform 6,000 more hip replacements a year in the East Midlands if we all stopped wasting medicines. 

NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG represents 57 GP practices and is responsible for the healthcare of 525,000 people. It is one of four clinical commissioning groups in Derbyshire.

For advice on finding the right health service at the right time in Southern Derbyshire, visit 


Charles Malkin, Communications Officer 

Tel: 01246 514971/07825 274111 


Ref: SD/RHR/546

Published: 25/04/2014