What problem are we trying to tackle?

Medicines account for approximately 25% of the NHS carbon footprint, with 3% resulting from the propellant gases used in Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs). Reducing unnecessary prescribing and in particular reviewing the treatment regimens of patients prescribed MDIs will help to reduce medicines wastage and reduce the NHS carbon footprint. Non-adherence accounts for a significant proportion of waste medication and is influenced by people’s perceptions of their illness and prescribed medicines.

  • Almost a fifth of waste medicines in people’s homes have been found to be completely unused, with half of these said to have no intention of future use. In addition, for nearly a fifth of all instances of waste medication, patients reported intentional non-adherence (The School of Pharmacy – Evaluation of the Scale, Causes and Costs of Waste Medicines)
  • It is estimated that every pound spent on pharmaceuticals, generates greenhouse gas emissions of 0.1558kg CO2e and every hospital bed day generates 63.7kg of CO2e (NICE – Environmental impact report: Medicines optimisation)

Our aims in south east London:

  • To better understand the sources of medicines waste and support the safe disposal of unused medicines (NOR report R20)
  • To improve medicines sustainability by embedding best practice around the prescribing of inhalers in local guidance, including the uptake of devices with a lower carbon footprint (NOR report R20)

The work that we are doing:

Pilots described are based on preliminary results and will be updated once a full evaluation has been concluded.

South East London Integrated Care System

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