It has been reported that medicine waste costs the NHS approximately £300 million every year. This could be due to various reasons, including patients not taking their medicines or using them incorrectly. The cost to the NHS of people not taking their medicines as prescribed and not receiving full health benefits put more strain on the NHS and divert the desperately needed funding for quality patient care and vital health services.
What can you do to reduce wastage of medicine?
- Only order what you need
- If you have any problems regarding your medicines speak to your GP or local pharmacist for professional advice
- Return all unwanted medicines to a pharmacy for safe disposal
- Take all your medicines with you when going into hospital
There are two key pharmacy services available that aim to help patients use their medicines more effectively and reduce medicine wastage. These are the Medicine Use Review (MUR) service and New Medicine Service (NMS).
MUR provides the opportunity for a patient to meet with a pharmacist and discuss the medicines that they have been prescribed. The pharmacist establishes how patients take their medicines, helps them understand why and how to take them and identifies any issues. This will generally help to improve health outcomes.
The NMS provides support for patients who are newly prescribed a medicine to manage a long-term condition. The service mainly focuses on particular patient groups and conditions, consisting of three stages:
- Patient engagement – eligible patients are identified and recruited for the service
- Intervention – a discussion occurs between the pharmacist and patient at an agreed time, adherence is assessed and problems are identified
- Follow up – as per intervention stage and the service is concluded either with or without action(s) being taken
Overall these services help to increase adherence to treatment, reduce hospital admissions and thereby improve quality of life. It is therefore clear that by improving adherence to treatment, this will ultimately help reduce medicine wastage and delivering better value for the NHS.