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Wasted Medicine - The cost to the NHS

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Wasted Medicine - The cost to the NHS

Every month thousands of pounds worth of medication is wasted within the NHS. It is difficult to know exactly how much as only a proportion of unused medicines are returned to pharmacies for destruction, however nationally the estimate is that £1 in every £25 spent on medicines ends up wasted.


Although waste is not always preventable, for example when a patient suffers an adverse reaction to a medicine, around half of all medicines-related waste is considered avoidable. A medicines awareness campaign has been running across the whole of Eastern Cheshire this year which you may have seen within the surgery and local pharmacies. The Need It?, Order It, Use It! campaign was developed to highlight the issue of avoidable medicines waste and ask for support from patients, healthcare professionals and other organisations to make best use of limited NHS resources.

The key messages to take away are:

  •     Need it – only order what you need each time. Do not allow anyone else to order 'everything' on your behalf and if your needs change or you have excess medication at home please talk to the surgery or your pharmacist.
  •     Order it – your GP practice or local pharmacy can help you to order the medicines you take regularly. Please ask about online ordering of prescriptions at the surgery as this is an efficient way to order your prescription at a time which suits you. You may also wish to discuss the range of collection and delivery services with your preferred pharmacy.
  •     Use it – Unwanted medication cannot be reused, it has to be destroyed even if it is sealed. If you only order what you need each month then you should not find that you have excess stocks of medicines at home.

What to do with Excess Medication:

In the event that you have more medication than you need at home please speak to the surgery or your pharmacist so that your regular orders can be postponed for a period whilst you use up your existing supplies. This is a good option for patients who continue to require the medication but simply have too much of it.

If you have medicines at home which are no longer being used, for example due to a change of treatment, side-effects, medicines that belonged to deceased relative, it is important that these medicines are returned to a community pharmacy for destruction.

Remember - only order what you need

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Telephone Triage

Telephone Triage - How does it work and what is it for?

Priorslegh Medical Centre has operated a telephone triage service for some time, for those not familiar with a triage system here is how it works:

  • If you have an emergency and need to speak to a clinician urgently please phone the surgery in the morning or after 130pm for an afternoon call back
  • Triage is for emergency queries only, that does not include medication request or sick note requests
  • You have to be available to come down to the surgery within 2-3 hours if needed. If you are going to work then it is not an emergency for telephone triage.
  • Your call will be triaged along with nearly 100 other calls in a morning and the same number of calls in the afternoon; this means we cannot give you a time you will be called back.
  • Triage does not always mean you have to come to the surgery, if a clinician feels they are happy discussing your condition with you over the phone they can do a prescription for you if needed and it can be ready to collect the same morning.

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