The prescribing of unnecessary and unwanted medicines places a substantial and unwelcome pressure of healthcare costs, stockpiles drugs in bathroom cabinets that increases the risk of self-harm or accidental poisoning, and bears a substantial environmental impact when finally discarded.
The Isle of Wight NHS is one of many organisations seeking to save money by reducing medicines waste, and now NHS Berkshire has joined the game. Buoyed by www.medicinewaste.com, both Isle of Wight and Berkshire put emphasis on the patients’ seemingly unreasonable demand for repeat prescriptions. Ignoring the fundamental question of why GPs and others dish out willy nilly prescriptions for drugs that are unwanted and unnecessary and without the required checks and controls that should be applied the emphasis is on the patient as wrongdoer.
It all seems destined for disappointment. No likelihood of better prescribing or improved clinical services, and no improvement in arrangements for the collection and safe disposal of unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medicines. www.medicinewaste.com have much to answer for, as do those NHS groups who repeat so without thinking the fundamentally wrong presumption that it the patient, not the prescriber, who is to blame.
Until the root cause is acknowledged and corrected, the financial savings will be modest or non-existent, and the environmental impact of unwanted medicinal products in the environment will not improve.