Hertsmere plan to help housebound residents cut medicines waste

Posted: March 18 2019

A new initiative has been launched in Hertsmere...

Hertsmere plan to help housebound residents cut medicines waste

The initiative is aimed at helping people who are housebound to use medicines more effectively, reducing stockpiles of drugs in their homes.

The pilot project, called ‘Don’t stockpile medicines’, is being run by a partnership between Hertsmere Borough Council, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust and Hertfordshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC).  It will enable Hertsmere residents to get expert advice from an approved local community pharmacist if a visiting professional such as a nurse, social worker or carer feels that they need assistance with their medication or seem to have too much in their homes.  

Councillor Caroline Clapper, Portfolio Holder for Health, Hertsmere Borough Council said:

"Information gathered from patients and carers across the area suggests that prescription medicines are sometimes over-ordered ‘just in case’ they run out – leading to very expensive and potentially dangerous stockpiles of medicines that have a limited life. In some cases, patients are reluctant to tell their GP surgery they have stopped taking medicines prescribed for them.  This can lead to serious health problems and result in someone being more likely to fall, or be admitted to hospital.  

“Every day, large amounts of prescription medicines have to be destroyed because they have been ordered unnecessarily or have not been used due to lack of understanding.  As health and care services continue to be financially challenged, it is important that every effort is made to minimise waste and save money.”

Ingrid Cruickshank, Deputy Executive Officer, Herts LPC commented:

“It is vital that patients use their prescribed medicines correctly. Pharmacists, who hold patients’ medication records, are often in the best position to review a patient’s medication and support them to get the best from their medicines.

“This innovative project will help to prompt important conversations between community pharmacists and patients as well as their GPs where there are concerns. Such conversations would include how patients can manage and order their medication in the most appropriate way. The pharmacist will also ensure that any excess or out of date medications are removed from a patient’s home and disposed of correctly.”

Dr Catherine Page, a GP from Fairbrook Medical Centre in Borehamwood, commented:

“I am delighted to be involved in this project.  It can be difficult for GPs to know how the medicines we prescribe are actually being used by patients, particularly those who find it difficult to come into the surgery.  By working closely with the trusted professionals that go into people’s homes regularly and can spot when problems with medicines arise, we can help to improve our patients’ health and save vital funds too.”

This project has been funded by three Hertsmere councillors, Bushey North representative Jane West and Borehamwood Brookmeadow councillors Alan Plancey and Susan Brown, using their Hertfordshire County Council Locality Budgets.

The project supports the recent regional ‘Look in the Bag’ campaign, launched by the Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability Transformation Partnership (STP), which aims to reduce the staggering £7 million bill for medicines prescribed every year in the area but never used.

Carers or healthcare professionals who would like further information on this pilot project should call Herts LPC on 01707 390095.

If you are a journalist or media representative requiring further information contact our communications team on (01707) 388148 or via communications@hct.nhs.uk