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Only ask for what you need

NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group is asking people to help reduce the cost of medicines waste. People on repeat prescriptions are being asked to avoid stockpiling medicines by checking how much medicine they have at home before asking for more.

It is estimated that £90 million of unused prescription medicines are kept in people's homes. Every prescription costs the NHS money, even if a prescription charge is paid. Unused prescription medicine costs the NHS around £300 million each year. This is money that could be spent on vital NHS services.

Everyone can help reduce medicines waste:

  • Wait until you have less than two weeks supply left before asking for more.
  • Only tick the boxes on your repeat prescription forms for medicines you really need. It will still be there if you need it next time.
  • When you pick up your prescription, check what is in the bag. Make sure that it is what you ask for and what you need.  You can return any unwanted medicines to the pharmacist while you are in the pharmacy.
  • If you have stopped taking any medicines, tell your GP or pharmacist, so they can be removed from your repeat list.
  • When you see your GP or consultant, make sure you understand any changes in your medicines, what each medicine is for, why you are taking it, and how to take it properly.
  • Manage your medicines by registering for GP online services and requesting your prescriptions online. You can do this through your GP practice.

Remember: if you need the medicine in future, you can still request it.

Dr Di Aitken, GP and NHS Lambeth CCG Governing Body Member said: "Everyone involved in prescribing, dispensing or reviewing medicines can make sure that medicines are taken as recommended and that patients are involved in making decisions about their treatment. We want patients on repeat prescriptions to check what they have and only ask for what they need. Once medicines have been dispensed, they cannot be recycled."

Ade Olayide, Superintendent Pharmacist, Chair, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Local Pharmaceutical Committee added: "We would like to encourage patients to discuss their medicines with their GP or pharmacist regularly so that they get the most out of their medicines and benefit from taking or using them appropriately. Everyone can help reduce medicines waste."

To find out more, go to Only ask for what you need