NICE advice could help in drive to cut medicines wastage
Following NICE's advice on medicines adherence could help in the battle against medicine wastage, which is costing the NHS £300 million each year.
With over 900 million prescription items dispensed last year and with more patients being treated at home or in the community for an ever wider range of conditions, it is vital that the NHS tackles unnecessary wastage.
On top of the £300 million lost in medicine wastage, the cost to the NHS of people not taking their medicines properly and not getting the full benefits to their health is estimated at over £500 million a year.
The Department of Health has launched an initiative to improve medicine use and cut wastage, as part of the drive to help the NHS make up to £20 billion of efficiency savings by 2015.
A steering group to improve the use of medicines will be established to identify how people can be better supported in taking their medicines as prescribed, helping to improve their long-term health outcomes and ensuring better value for the NHS.
The group will consist of experts and patient representatives and will initially report early next year.
In the meantime, following NICE guidance could help the NHS reduce levels of medicines wastage by involving patients in decisions about their medicines.
NICE recommends that healthcare professionals adapt their consultation style to the needs of individual patients so that all patients have the opportunity to be involved in decisions about their medicines at the level they wish.
Patients should be encouraged to ask about their condition and offered information about medicines before they are prescribed.
Patients should also be asked if they have missed any doses of medicine recently. Healthcare professionals should consider using records of prescription re-ordering, pharmacy patient medication records and return of unused medicines to identify potential non-adherence and patients needing additional support, says NICE.
Launching the initiative today, Health Minister Lord Howe said: “We want to look at how patients can make the most of the medicines they take. This isn't just about saving money - most importantly, it is about making sure that patients stay well and get the best outcomes from their medicines.
“Our plans for the NHS will give more frontline staff the power to innovate and deliver services that best meet the needs of their patients.
“Sharing decision making with patients about their medicine use - ‘no decision about me without me' - will help improve their health outcomes, reduce future demands on the service, as well as reduce medicine wastage.
“Every pound wasted is a pound that could be spent on treating patients. By reducing medicine wastage the NHS will save money that can be spent in other areas of patient care.”
Rob Darracott, Chief Executive of Pharmacy Voice will co-chair the steering group. He added: “There are lots of good ideas around for how health professionals can provide better support for patients and the public to help them use their medicines more effectively.
“What the NHS needs now is a real plan for embedding those ideas in systems that historically have been more concerned with the product than the person.”
8 August 2011