Back to news

Reducing the impact of medicine waste in Southwark


NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group’s new campaign ‘It’s okay to ask about medicines’ launches this week in a bid to tackle unnecessary medicine waste.

Posters and adverts will be popping up across the borough reminding people to only order the medicines they need and to tell their GP, pharmacist or nurse if they've stopped using their medicines.

The campaign aims to highlight the risks to patients not using their medicines properly, and the cost of medicine waste to the NHS.

NHS Southwark CCG spends over £30 million every year on medicines. The Department of Health estimates that unused medicines cost the NHS around £300 million every year, which equates to around £9 million in south east London alone. 

Dr Jonty Heaversedge, Chair of NHS Southwark CCG, said: “GPs understand that patients sometimes struggle with taking their medicines for a variety of reasons. They could be worried about side effects, don't think the medicines are working for them, or find it difficult to remember to take their medicines.

“Patients shouldn't be afraid to tell their GP if they've stopped taking their medicines or no longer want to take them.”

Not taking medicines properly can put patient’s health at risk as well as wasting NHS time and money so it's important that patients talk to their GP or pharmacist if they're not getting on with their medicines.

Southwark Chief Pharmacist, Caroline Ashton said: “Pharmacists are qualified experts who can provide detailed medicine advice. This includes a free NHS Medicines Use Review, which helps patients understand more about the medicines they are taking. 

“We want to encourage patients to only order what they need when they hand in their repeat prescription. Patients should check what medicines they have at home first and only tick the boxes on the repeat prescription form that they need. If you use the electronic prescription service, tell your pharmacist if they give you medicines you’re no longer using or already have enough of at home.”

Southwark residents can look out for advertising in GP surgeries, pharmacies and in public places. You can also check out the CCG’s Twitter feed @NHSSouthwarkCCG #itsokaytoask.

Find out more about the campaign.