A report commissioned by the Department of Health looks at the ways in which the NHS is working to improve the use of medicines and tackle avoidable medicines wastage. The action plan outlines how best practice could be shared across the NHS in the future. The plan identifies how everybody – not just pharmacists, GPs and care home staff, but also patients and the public – can stop avoidable medicines wastage.
The report, ‘Improving the use of medicines for better outcomes and reduced waste: An action plan’, covers making more effective use of medicines in primary and community care, in secondary care and in care homes and end of life care. It also looks at how patients can be better engaged in decisions about their medicines and how information about medicines can be better provided to patients and health and care professionals. The report highlights the role that information plays in reducing wastage of medicines, with a chapter devoted to’engaging people in the decisions about their medicines and improving communications between health and social care professionals and patients’. The chapter includes the following recommendations:
- Both patients and healthcare professionals need to be able to access information from a reputable source on how the patient’s medicines work, on any side effects and on how they will improve their health.
- Information Technology developments offer great potential for involving patients in their care and helping health professionals to communicate effectively.
- A number of the elements within the Action Plan could be brought together in a national public information campaign that highlights the part that patients and the public have to play to help health professionals and the NHS.
- A single reference point for information about medicines for patients would be helpful. The National Portal suggested in the DH Information Strategy should include a high quality medicines information resource designed for patients and accessible to all health professionals, which can help make informed choices about the use of medicines and ensure that all professionals are providing the same information to patients. This information should complement the manufacturer’s Patient Information Leaflet.