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Nurses in medicine stockpiling call

Nurses have called for action to stop people repeatedly ordering medication they do not need, which they claim would save the NHS millions of pounds.

Christine Thomas, a community nurse from Swansea, told the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference in Liverpool that a leaflet should be delivered to "every household in the UK" telling people not to stockpile medication.

She said rubbish bags full of unopened boxes had been found, with other unwanted or out-of-date medications being flushed down the toilet or put in the bin.

It comes as RCN Chief Executive, Dr Peter Carter, called on the government to take action over proposed job cuts and instead look at other ways of saving the NHS money.

Ms Thomas added: "Why do people order things like aspirin when you can order 100 for less than £1, paracetamol at three packs for £1 or ibuprofen at two packs for £1?

"Would people still ask for them if they had to pay?"

Last November, a report commissioned by the Department of Health found that unused prescription medicines was costing the NHS at least £300 million a year in England, although this was likely to be an underestimate.

It found around half the waste associated with drugs that were prescribed but never taken was preventable.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Royal College of Nursing

We asked if you agree stockpiling medication is a problem. Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Yes, many patients have stockpiles of medications at home for various reasons eg, elderly, confused, lack of understanding about what the medications are for of how to use properly.  Wasted medication can be greatly reduced by local campaigns which involve patients and professionals alike" - Catherine Gleeson, West Yorkshire

"Yes very much so. I have been complaining about this for years. Also on a personal note - recently I was refused something very small in cost to alleviate a nasty condition, but there seemed no problem ordering a large number of very expensive pills with a lot of side-effects that I was unable to take so they were wasted. So NEW TRIAL prescriptions should ALSO only be ordered in very small quantity ie 5 days" - Sally Mould, UK

"Certain tablets should not be prescribed - painkillers and aspirin are cheap to buy" - Kevin Hynes, Newcastle