Only Ask for What You Need

The NHS 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.

Every prescription costs the NHS money, even if you pay a prescription charge. Unused prescription medicine costs the NHS around £300 million each year. This is money that could be spent on vital NHS services.

How can you help?

Everyone can help reduce medicines waste:

At home

  • Wait until you have less than two weeks supply left before you ask for more.
  • You can request more medicine at any time, but stockpiling medicines at home increases the risk for children and others of accidental overdose. Unused medicines cannot be recycled, even if they have never been opened.
  •  Only tick the boxes on your repeat prescription forms for medicines you really need. There is no need to worry, the item will not disappear from your repeat prescription. It will still be there next time you need to order your medication.
  • One way to manage you prescriptions at home is by registering for GP online services. You can do this through your GP practice. You can use this to request your prescriptions online.

At your pharmacy

  • When you pick up your prescription from the pharmacy, check what is in the bag. Make sure that it is what you asked for and what you need.  
  • You can return any unwanted medicines to the pharmacist. You cannot do this once you have left the pharmacy.

At your GP

  • When you see your GP or consultant, make sure you understand any changes in your medicines, and what each medicine is for and why you are taking it, and how to take it properly.
  • Tell your GP or pharmacist if you’ve stopped taking any medicines, so they can be removed from your repeat list.
  • Having regular discussions with your pharmacist and GP will mean you get the right help with taking your medicines.

If you need more medicine in the future you can still request it.  Stockpiling medicines increases the risk for children and others that may accidentally take them. Unused medicines cannot be recycled and issued again even if they have never been opened.

If everyone makes these small changes then, together, we can make a massive difference to reducing medicines waste and looking after our NHS in Lambeth.