A new group set up to tackle the £300 million being lost every year in the NHS due to medicine wastage, at least half of which is avoidable, has been announced by Health Minister Lord Howe today.
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. This will contribute to the support the Department is putting in place to help the NHS make up to £20 billion of efficiency savings by 2015, whilst also driving up the quality of services.
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 group will also 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 Steering Group to Improve the Use of Medicineswill be made up of experts and patients representatives and will initially report in early 2012. The group will be jointly chaired by Robert Johnstone, a Trustee of National Voicesand Rob Darracott, Chief Executive of Pharmacy Voice.
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 and Co-Chair, said:
“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 and processes that historically have been more concerned with the product than the person, and for incentivising professionals to provide the direct support for medicines in use that improves outcomes for patients and ensures the NHS gets best value from its investment in medicines."
Robert Johnstone, Trustee of National Voices and Co-Chair said
“We want to ensure patients are fully informed about their treatment options and involved as equals in a shared decision making process so that there are better decisions and improved use of medicines. Managing repeat prescribing better and providing patients with adequate and appropriate information should help to improve health outcomes and additionally reduce wastage of medicines.”
To coincide with the announcement of this steering group, the Department has also today published Making Best Use of Medicines, a report of a roundtable event held at the King's Fund earlier this year. The event followed the publication in November 2010 of the research report The Evaluation of the Scale, Causes and Cost of Medicines Wasted.