A report by the Department of Health estimates that unused medicines cost the NHS a staggering £300 million a year!
Of that figure it’s believed that £110 million worth of unused medicines are returned to pharmacies across the UK, with a further £90 million worth of prescriptions left unused at home and £50 million worth disposed of by care homes.
Not only is the huge amount of wastage a concern, patients not using prescribed medication or taking it correctly could experience worsening symptoms which then require further treatments which may well have been avoided otherwise. In fact, the Department of Health report indicates that around half of all medicines returned hadn’t even been opened.
The NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group is campaigning to educate the public about the problem and reduce medicine wastage to help redirect precious lost funds to other desperately needed health services. The CCG is keen to encourage patients collecting repeat prescriptions in their local pharmacy to only take what they need and return any unwanted or unused medication to the pharmacist rather than stockpiling medicines at home.
Part of NHS Lambeth’s campaign includes advertising their message on branded pharmacy bags across Tabletalk’s network of independent pharmacies in Lambeth. The fact that these branded pharmacy bags are handed directly into the hands of patients collecting their prescriptions only serves to reinforce the message. Patients are more likely to read a message thoroughly when it is delivered by a health professional, particularly their pharmacist who is renowned as one of the most trusted health professionals in the industry.
With medication also often kept in the bag at home the CCG’s message will be delivered time and again serving as a constant prompt and reminder, actively working to change perceptions and influence better behaviour when it comes to how the public uses medication. The advertising campaign in pharmacies across Lambeth is running for a 4 week period offering multiple opportunities to make a resounding impact on public perception in the local area.