Waste medicines cost to be tackled by new NHS community conversation

Ways to cut the huge cost to the NHS of waste medicines will be explored when a special event is held on October 12th.

At least £6 million of medication is destroyed every year across Staffordshire, with just under half of this being in North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Each pound that is spent on medication that does not get used could be spent on other treatments, care or support.

A Community Conversation Event -  “Medicines matter! - let ’s not waste them” – takes place at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Stockwell St, Leek from 2-4.30pm on Thursday October 12th.

GP Dr Lorna Clarson, North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs’ Clinical Director for Partnerships and Engagement said: “At a time when resources are under severe pressure it cannot be right that £6 million of local NHS money is wasted every year because medicines are collected from pharmacies and go unused.

“There are a number of reasons why this happens and we need to tackle them effectively. This can only be done as a partnership, with GPs, pharmacists and patients being the main players.”

Pharmacist Dr Manir Hussain, the CCGs’ Associate Director - Medicines Optimisation said: “Sometimes patients think that an unused medicine can be returned and then it is used on another patient.  However strict NHS quality rules mean that once a medicine leaves the pharmacy, it cannot be given to another patient. It has to be disposed of safely.

“Once a medicine leaves our control, we just cannot guarantee its safety and risk using it on another patient.  It doesn’t matter if it has not been opened or if it’s brand new. ”

The national cost to the NHS of wasted medicines is estimated at £300 million per year.   

The £6 million waste in Staffordshire equates to the salaries of over 200 community nurses or could pay for 1,600 hip replacement operations.

Some areas where patients can help include:

  • Checking what medicines you have already before ordering more
  • Checking prescription bags before you leave the pharmacy – if you realise you have an unwanted medicine, hand it back before you leave
  • Tell your pharmacist or GP if you are no longer using a medicine for whatever reason

Dr Hussain added: “We hope people from all backgrounds will attend this event so together we can tackle this serious challenge to our NHS, and understand how we can all play our part in reducing waste.”

Anyone who would like to book a place at the Community Conversation can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.