An efficiency programme that has seen pharmacy assistants at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital reduce wastage on drugs and save over £300,000 in the past year has been shortlisted for the healthcare category in the 2014 National Recycling Awards.
The QEH scheme will be judged alongside projects submitted by seven other NHS and private healthcare providers for the national scheme’s Healthcare Recycler of the Year Award, with the winner announced at a presentation evening in London in July.
Around £14 million a year is spent on drugs at the QEH. A proportion of the drugs prescribed to patients are returned to the pharmacy for a variety of reasons, such as patients being discharged and not needing further medication, changes to a patient’s treatment plan or medicines not transferring with a patient when they are moved to another treatment area.
QEH chief pharmacist, Dr Mojgan Sani, said: “The NHS is facing financial challenges as never before. Every penny counts, so it is only right to minimise waste.
“For some time we have been improving prescribing to make sure it is more cost effective but it was also recognised that we needed a more efficient system to reduce the amount of medicines we have to send away to be incinerated.”
The pharmacy team set-up a process of quality assurance for recycling any medicines that were returned from hospital wards and other departments without having been used. These now go through a rigorous quality assessment before they are put back into the pharmacy system. The process has been implemented by pharmacy assistant Barbara Simpson.
As a result the pharmacy achieved savings of over £300,000 over 12 months. Dr Sani said: “We are delighted to have been short-listed for an award. More importantly, we have made some significant savings at a time when we need every available penny to go towards patient care.”