NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has launched a campaign to reduce the £2m worth of unused medicines in the county, it announced last week (11 March).

According to the CCG, patients in Braintree District, Chelmsford City and Maldon District waste almost £2m worth of medicines every year with around half the medication returned to pharmacies unopened.

The initial phase of the year-long Your Medicines, Your NHS campaign, which will run until the end of June, encourages patients to ‘open the bag’ in the pharmacy and check if they still need all the medicines dispensed so any surplus can be put back into stock.

Chief pharmacist at NHS Mid Essex CCG Paula Wilkinson, said: ‘We have been working with the 64 community pharmacies across Braintree District, Chelmsford City and Maldon District to promote the first stage of our ‘Your Medicines, Your NHS’ campaign.

‘In [the first stage], we are asking pharmacists and their counter assistants to wear badges suggesting that people ‘ask me about open the bag’ and have conversations with their patients about checking their dispensed medicines before they leave the pharmacy.’

CCG staff will also be wearing the badges, while GP practices in the area have been asked to display leaflets promoting the initiative.

A social media campaign will be supported by adverts on Heart Essex Radio, the largest local commercial radio station in the area.

The second phase will encourage patients to ‘ask their pharmacist’ for advice on over-the-counter medicines, while the final phase will focus on checking stocks of medicines at home so that patients ‘only order what they need’.

A similar campaign was carried out by Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG in 2016-17, aimed at tackling an annual medicine wastage of £4.7m.