Help reduce medicines waste
NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group's new campaign 'It's okay to ask about medicines' launches on 18 May in a bid to tackle unnecessary medicine waste.
Soon you will see posters and adverts pop up across the borough reminding people to only order the medicines they need and to tell their GP, pharmacist or nurse if they've stopped using their medicines.
The campaign aims to highlight the risks to patients of not using their medicines properly, and the cost of medicine waste to the NHS.
NHS Lewisham CCG spends around £35.5m a year on medicines. The Department of Health estimates that unused medicines cost the NHS in England around £300 million every year. Locally, it is estimated that medicines waste costs the NHS in Lewisham around £1.6m a year.* £1.6m a year equals 37,209 GP appointments at the 2013 price of £43 an appointment.
Dr Marc Rowland, Chair of Lewisham CCG, said: "GPs and pharmacists understand that patients sometimes struggle with taking their medicines. They may be worried about side effects, don't think their medicines are working for them or find it difficult to remember to take their medicines.
"Patients shouldn't be afraid to tell their GP if they've stopped taking their medicines or no longer want to take them. You can make decisions with your GP and pharmacist to make sure your medicines work well for you."
The campaign encourages patients on repeat prescriptions to order medicines responsibly.
"If you have a repeat prescription, please check what medicines you still have at home first and only order what you need," Dr Rowland said.
"Ticking all the boxes on your repeat prescription form if you already have enough medicines at home can lead to waste if your medicines or condition changes.
"Stockpiling medicines at home also increases the risk for children and others that may accidentally take them."
Unused medicines cannot be recycled and issued again even if they have never been opened. Any unused medicines should be returned to your local pharmacy for safe disposal.
Lewisham residents should look out for advertising in GP surgeries, pharmacies and in public places. The CCG will also be active on Twitter. @NHSLewishamCCG look out for #itsokaytoask.
To find out more about the campaign click here.
* estimate based on national figures