Highbridge Medical Centre has changed the way that patients order prescriptions in an effort to reduce a huge overspend on unused medicines.

The centre in Highbridge’s Pepperall Road has an annual overspend of up to £200,000, caused in part by drugs wastage and over-ordering by patients.

The centre has therefore just introduced the re-introduction of an old patient-initiated prescription requests system to try and halt the wastage.

Speaking to Burnham-On-Sea.com, Harvey Sampson, Clinical Lead at Highbridge Medical Centre, said: “We currently have a quite significant overspend on our prescribing budget and one of the main contributors to this is drug wastage and inadvertent over-ordering by patients, resulting in drug waste.”

“To try and combat this we have changed the way patients can order their prescriptions.”

“Up until the start of May we have had a system whereby the pharmacies order on behalf of their patients and, although extremely convenient for patients, this has led to multiple instances of drugs being ordered unnecessarily.”

He added: “We have recently found a hoard of drugs at one patient’s house which had accumulated over many months and is thousands of pounds of our drug budget wasted.”

“We have had numerous meetings internally and with the pharmacies, and have agreed to revert to patient-initiated prescription requests only.”

“This was the system at Highbridge up until a few years ago, and is still the preferred system for the majority of practices in Somerset.”

“I do think this will have benefits, both in cutting down on drug wastage and also encouraging patient engagement and understanding of their own health conditions, and in particular understanding a little more regarding the medicines that they take.”

He added that the problem is not unique to Highbridge Medical Centre, saying that other centres across the region are also dealing with overspends.

Pictured: Top, Highbridge Medical Centre where the prescription changes have been introduced and, above prescription pills (Allan Ajifo)