Vast sum of wasted NHS money needs to be tackled

Rick Jackson has hit the gym in an effort to be healthy  (Shutterstock)

RICK JACKSON: Who’s the wise guy? Me!

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Dr Kawai Mo sums up the problem of unused prescription drugs very well in the article we feature in today’s News.

He equates the £1.5m lost in the wider Portsmouth area alone through unused pills to 600 courses of breast cancer treatment or 10,000 cataract operations – in short, a waste of money that has the potential to do a lot of good.

This isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault – it’s clear there are several different reasons behind the situation – but it’s also apparent that steps could be taken to rectify the problem.

Firstly, it is beholden on patients to make sure that they pay close attention to their prescriptions, and if they are on repeat to only collect what they need.

This is emphatically not an argument for people going without drugs – it’s a call for vigilance. Just because the NHS is free at point of access does not mean it should be treated like an inexhaustible resource; anyone who believes it is clearly hasn’t kept up with current affairs in recent years. As with the problems of queues at the casualty department at Queen Alexandra Hospital, all of us have a duty to make sure we only use the NHS when it is necessary to do so.

However, with prescriptions doctors must also take some more responsibility. Pharmacists are telling us that clinicians are over-ordering for patients – it is clear that repeat prescriptions must be reviewed more regularly so as to avoid waste.

It’s a staggering fact that nationally, £1 in every £50 spent on the NHS goes on medicine that is never taken. It would be a scandal, were it not for the fact that those involved are patients who just want to improve their health and doctors who just want to help them. There are no bad guys here, but what there is has shown itself to be a system that is in need of, if not reform, then tighter self-regulation by all concerned.

Many people think of the NHS as one of the crowning glories of this country, especially for sticking to its principle of universality after six decades. To help ensure this continues, wasted medicine is are one of the areas that need to be scrutinised and improved.

To read the full story click here.