DOCTORS, community pharmacies and clinicians at NHS Sheffield are launching a new drive to reduce medicine waste - which costs £2 million a year.
The amount spent on prescription medicines for city residents which are then unused is equivalent to 280 more heart bypass operations, 2,800 more cataract operations or 60 more community nurses.
NHS Sheffield’s ‘War on Waste’ aims to encourage people to think carefully before requesting repeat prescriptions and to return unused drugs to their pharmacy, seeking advice to review their prescription usage.
Dr Richard Oliver, GP and Chair of the Clinical Executive at NHS Sheffield, said: “Tackling prescription waste will free up some much-needed resources in Sheffield that can be spent on other areas that will benefit Sheffield patients and public.
“A growing demand for hospital services, a rising bill for individualised care packages for people who need health care at home and no foreseeable significant increase in NHS funding mean that we’ve had to make some tough decisions over recent months to ensure health services in the city are sustainable well into the future.”
He added: “Prescribing is one area where some simple changes in relation to prescriptions can produce an immediate saving - chiefly by reduction of waste.
“With the help of local GPs we have identified some measures that we can put into place with the support of the medicines management team at NHS Sheffield.
“We are also calling on local people to help us by reducing the number of medicines that go to waste each year.
“Reducing the amount of waste on unnecessary prescriptions could save millions.
“This is money which could be invested elsewhere in the health care system in the city.”
“As a GP I see the difference that can be made.
“One patient returned unused and un-opened medicines which filled a black bin liner and were valued at £5,500.
“Unfortunately any returned medicines cannot be re-used and cases like this are not uncommon.
“Patients do frequently return bin liners with high value waste.”