Appeal to patients

DOCTORS in West Norfolk are urging patients to only order the medication that they need.

Dr Paul Williams, of Upwell Health Centre, said: “We know that patients tend to play safe when ordering their medication, and order more drugs than they need - just in case they run out. We would ask them to only request drugs that they need.”

Dr Tony Burgess, Interim Chair of the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Also, patients need to tell us when they are not taking medicines any more. It’s important to know this and no doctor would be grumpy about being told this. It just improves care.”

Unused prescription medicines cost the NHS across the UK more than £300 million every year.

Across Norfolk, up to £4.8 million of medication is wasted every year. This figure only represents medicines handed back to pharmacies, not those taken back to hospital units for disposal or thrown away at home. It also does not include the cost to the NHS of having to dispose of these medicines properly.

Dr Williams is a member of the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, the new GP-led body which is taking over NHS commissioning from 2013. It is leading the drive in West Norfolk to reduce medicine wastage.

Dr Williams urged patients to take their unused medication to their local pharmacy for safe disposal.

“Out-of-date prescription drugs should not be taken as their effectiveness will have diminished over time and can also be dangerous,” he added.

“If you have any concerns, please contact your pharmacist for advice.”