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Cutting waste and saving funds

​Dr ​John Whitehead, a GP at Barton Surgery in Dawlish
A pilot scheme to cut medicines wastage and save the local NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds a year has been launched.

Five GP practices across South Devon and Torbay are taking part in the 12-week pilot, with patients now ordering repeat medicines direct from their practice. 

The pilot comes after 90 percent of responses to South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group’s primary care survey earlier this year said they agreed that instead of items on a repeat prescription being automatically dispensed every 28 days, patients should be responsible for only ordering what they actually require.

Previously, many patients had their regular medicines ordered on their behalf by a pharmacy or company – but this can lead to unintentional over-ordering.

If the pilot is successful and is rolled out across South Devon and Torbay, it could save the local NHS £400,000 each year. This could fund 67 hip replacements or 100 emergency hospital stays following a heart attack.

The practices taking part in the pilot are Parkhill Medical Practice and Brunel Medical Practice in Torquay, Mayfield Medical Centre and Corner Place Surgery in Paignton, and Barton Surgery in Dawlish.

Dr John Whitehead, a GP at Barton Surgery, is the primary care lead for South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group.

He said: “Through our survey we listened to what people thought about how repeat medicines are currently ordered, and we’ve responded quickly. This pilot has the potential to really help our healthcare community, now and for the future.

“As we all know, NHS budgets are not keeping pace with the surge in demand on services as the number of older people rises.

“We have to think of how best to spend the money we have, and tightening up on the over-ordering of medicines is just one way we can do that.”

The pilot is being phased in across the five practices and is being evaluated throughout the three months. 

Dr Whitehead added: “Patients need to be aware that practices taking part in this pilot will only accept repeat requests made by patients or their carers when they next order a repeat prescription.

“We ask that patients only order medicine when needed. Please check how many days’ medicine is left before ordering a new prescription, and order when there are 7 to 10 days of medicines left.

“Two to three working days should be allowed for the prescription to be issued, and your pharmacy will need three to five days to get it ready for you.”