Dr Nick Balac's View: Medicines Matter
15 July 2016

Here's the latest column for Barnsley Chronicle from Barnsley CCG Chair and local GP Dr Nick Balac.

Dr Nick Balac’s View: Medicines Matter

Prescription medicines do a great job in helping us stay well or get better after an illness. But they need to be valued and monitored carefully.

Last year in Barnsley £47million was spent on NHS prescription medicines. Most of these medicines are prescribed to people who are on repeat orders because they have long term health issues.

Have you looked through your bedside drawers, cupboards or medicine cabinets recently? Chances are there will be some NHS prescribed medicines in there because they are out of date or you’ve ordered the same things each month, even though you may have stopped taking them.

In the past we’ve launched public awareness campaigns to ‘show the red card’ to medicines waste. The simple message behind the campaigns: only order the medicine you need.

It’s as easy as that and we need your help again to really tackle this.

We estimate that at around £2million of NHS money is spent every year in Barnsley on routinely re-ordered prescription medicines that are not used.

It’s money that could be spent on caring for patients, because what many people don’t realise is that even if you never open them, dispensed medicines cannot be recycled or prescribed to anyone else, they have to be destroyed.

Your local surgery and pharmacy need to work together with you on this too, monitoring your medication regularly and only receiving the things you ask for from your pharmacy. Not only will this help you get the most out of your medication but it will help you manage your medicines better by avoiding the medication building up and getting out of control. This is where we can work together and really help the NHS.

To help people to get the very best out of their medicines, which should also help to reduce wastage, the CCG is introducing a new team of medicine specialists to work in local surgeries.

They will be freeing up some GP and nurse time to regularly review people’s medication and needs. They can advise GPs on the latest medicines out there and they’ll become a central part of your local surgery team. We know it’s important that they understand you and your condition and their priority will be to work together with people and carers, to get the medicines right.

So, we’re working on getting medications right in the first place, now back to how we can all help. If you are concerned about any aspects of your medication – including that it may be piling up – you can also ask your local pharmacist for a review. Pharmacies are also the place to return any unwanted prescription medication, once you’ve had a clear out. They are the only place that can accept it and dispose of it correctly.

Getting the most out of your medicines is what we all want to happen - cutting out around £2million of unnecessary medicine waste in Barnsley to invest the savings in other parts of the local NHS.

Our goal is to save up to £38,000 a week on unnecessary medicine waste and we can do so without having any impact on patient care. That’s the kind of a tonic the NHS needs.

This is a printable version of http://www.barnsleyccg.nhs.uk/news/Dr-Nick-Balacs-View-Medicines-Matter.htm?pr=