The rally cry comes as part of a year-long campaign to cut waste – called ‘Your Medicines, Your NHS’ – which has been organised by five clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – Great Yarmouth and Waveney, North Norfolk, West Norfolk, Norwich and South Norfolk.
The second phase of the campaign starts today (1 September) and specifically targets care homes. It comes after Department of Health statistics showed vast quantities of medicines ordered on behalf of residents go unused – wasting scarce NHS resources which could be better spent elsewhere.
Staff are being urged to ‘only order what they need’ after audits showed around half the medication which is returned had not even been opened. They are now being encouraged to review their systems for ordering, storing and administering medicines so that residents are only receiving drugs they need and will use.
Michael Dennis, a medicines management expert with the CCGs, said: “Care homes can play a really key role in helping us to reduce medicines waste. This is because residents are often on numerous medicines, and often need help from staff to order and administer those drugs.
“Staff should always check that medication is actually needed before they order repeat prescriptions, while making sure they have good procedures in place for monitoring, ordering and administration.
“NHS medicines are funded by the taxpayer. That means that if the medicine isn’t used, it’s the taxpayer who misses out. But by following some really simple steps, everyone can help reduce waste and make the most of scarce NHS resources.”
The first phase of ‘Your Medicines, Your NHS’ urged people to open the bag at the pharmacy counter and hand any medication they no longer need back to the pharmacist.
This is because any medicine which is returned to a pharmacy at a later date cannot be reissued and must be safely disposed of.
As well as attracting coverage from the local press, radio, and TV, information about the first phase was also shared extensively on social media, reaching 130,000 people on Twitter alone on the first day.
Information about the impact the campaign has had on reducing wastage will be measured over the next year.
You can find out more about the campaign by visiting http://tiny.cc/YourMedicines_YourNHS or following the campaign on Twitter @YourMED_YourNHS and using the hashtags #onlyorderwhatheyneed and #yourmedicines