Patients have been asked to help cut medicines waste, which costs Bristol £3.5 million a year.
Patients and healthcare professionals in Bristol are being asked to help stop medicines going to waste as figures reveal £3.5 million is spent on unused medication every year in this city alone, and £300 million nationally.
10 tonnes of medicines waste is processed in Bristol every day, which is then incinerated and sent to landfill.
As part of NHS Sustainability Day next week (Thursday 26 March 2015) NHS Bristol CCG is asking people to help cut medicines waste.
An inhaler recycling scheme is being launched in the city, supported by GSK, allowing people to return empty devices to their pharmacy to be safely and responsibly recycled or recovered.
73 million inhalers are used in the UK every year and over 63% are placed in domestic bins after use, the vast majority of which end up in landfill.
43 pharmacies in Bristol have already signed up to the scheme with a further 28 expected to join shortly. To find your local participating pharmacy go to https://pharmacyfinder.completethecycle.eu/.
NHS organisations in Bristol are also working together to improve medicines ordering and prescribing systems and are asking members of the public to help in the following 5 ways:
- Take your medicines exactly as your doctor advises
- Only order what you need
- If you’re going to hospital, take your medicines with you
- Return unused medicines to your pharmacy
- Don’t flush medicines down the toilet
Research shows that between 30 and 50% of prescribed medicines are not taken as recommended, and ten days after starting a new medicine, 30% of patients have either stopped taking their medication or are no longer taking it as prescribed.
Dr Martin Jones, Chair of NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Medicines waste can quite literally mean money down the drain and is enormously costly in both financial and environmental terms. We are working hard to ensure that NHS systems are reviewed and updated to minimise waste wherever possible and are asking the public to help us.
“Making sure you only order what you need, or taking medication you already have with you to hospital can make a real difference to cutting waste. Safety is paramount, so when you no longer need medicines please return them to your pharmacist so they can be safely disposed of. Never flush them down the toilet or throw them in the bin.”
The inhaler recycling bins and medicines waste bins will be on display at a Sustainability Fair on Thursday 26 March in the recently opened Brunel Building Atrium at the new Southmead Hospital, which is being held to mark NHS Sustainability Day.
Local NHS organisations will come together to engage and enthuse patients, members of staff and visitors to the Brunel Building on sustainability. They will be sharing what the NHS in Bristol is doing to reduce our environmental impact and raising awareness of the links between our environment, sustainability, health and wellbeing.
Regrettably, there is still some onus on blaming patients, to stop asking for a prescription, while others have focussed on this and remonstration toward patients having the temerity to ask for repeat a prescription.
We have discussed this previously on the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum, to note that if GPs and others prescribed more responsibly, the net dispensing of pharmaceutical products would fall dramatically, wastage would decline considerably, and the environmental burden would be lessened. Though we laud the advice regarding disposal – are high street pharmacies fully funded for the disposal costs associated with more extensive takeback? – better prescribing would be a far more effective remedy for this particular ill.