Let’s work together to solve Wiltshire’s prescription problem

Alex Goddard, Deputy Head of Medicines Management

There are lots of people who, like me, like to stock up on the essentials; with a family of six, I’m never without baby wipes or a cupboard full of washing powder and I’m very keen to take full advantage of the supermarket buy one get one free deals. But, I also see this ‘just in-case’ attitude every single day in my job as Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Deputy Head of Medicines Management, when it comes to ordering repeat medication.

In Wiltshire, almost 1 in 4 people are on a repeat prescription. In fact, well over half (62%) of all prescriptions in Wiltshire are repeats and each month we dispense around 450,000 items on these prescriptions.

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However, we’ve found that 1 in every 15 repeat prescription items are not required because people already have stock. In other words that’s 360,000 items every year that aren’t needed. With each repeat prescription item costing Wiltshire £7.58, these unused medicines are wasting £2.7million every year. Just to put that into perspective, each of the following treatments also cost £2.7 million:

Wastage comparison

We’re dedicated to ensuring people have the right medication at the right time to help them stay well, however to continue to provide high quality health services in Wiltshire, we need your help:

Only order what you need

I know how comforting it can be to keep a stock of medication in the cupboard, for when you need it. However medicine does expire and your stock may be unusable by the time you get to it, or your prescription may have changed if a dose goes up or down. So when ordering your prescription, double check what items you already have and then only order what you need.

With most GP practices in Wiltshire now offering patients the choice to order repeat medication online or via email, it’s even easier to select just the items that you need at the time you need it.

Check your prescription before you take it home

When receiving your prescription from the Pharmacy/surgery, it’s easy to just pick up the bag and take it home without actually looking at what’s inside. Once you leave the Pharmacy/surgery we have to incinerate any medicine you return – even if it’s unopened. Each year in Wiltshire we spend around £42,000 to collect and incinerate unused medicine, and that doesn’t include the cost of the medicine! Quickly checking your prescription before you leave the Pharmacy could literally help us to save thousands of pounds.

Talk to your Pharmacist

Pharmacists are experts in medicine and can give you lots of advice and information about your prescription. If you’re:

  • not sure what a certain medicine is for
  • taking a different dose from what you’ve been prescribed

Have a chat with your Pharmacist; they may be able to carry out a medication review with you and make sure you are making the most of your prescriptions.

Who’s ordering for you?

Lots of people in Wiltshire have a friend, family member, carer, or pharmacy ordering their prescription. If you’re one of these people, have a chat with the person ordering your prescription and make sure they only order the medicines you need.

By working together and following these  simple tips, not only will we ensure that you continue to receive the right medication but it will also help us to save a considerable amount of money which will enable us to continue to provide high quality health services for the people of Wiltshire.

Find out more facts about Wiltshire’s repeat prescriptions in our infographic.