Health bosses in Cheshire West have saved almost £1.3m in just one year that would otherwise have been needlessly spent on prescription medicines.

The public ‘What a Waste’ campaign began with NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) initially asking medicines managers at a small number of GP practices to check whether patients still needed every item on their repeat prescription form. Scores reported that they didn’t.

In January last year the initiative was rolled out across all GP practices in West Cheshire and, coupled with public support, savings have since snowballed with a staggering £1.28m saved in the 12 months to January 2018.

GP Dr Chris Ritchieson, clinical chairman at the CCG, has thanked patients, GPs and pharmacists for their ongoing support.

“Every penny wasted on unused prescription medicines could instead be spent on treating those in most need,” he said. “We are extremely grateful for the support we continue to receive from local patients, clinicians and pharmacists.

GP Dr Chris Ritchieson, the clinical chair of NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

“Tens of thousands of pounds are being saved every week at absolutely no detriment to patient care. In fact, by ensuring that people are only prescribed the medication they really need, our ‘What a Waste’ campaign is helping to improve patient safety too.”

Nationally unused medicines cost the NHS an estimated £300m a year which could pay for more than 11,000 community nurses or 300,000 drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s.

Even if prescription medicines are unopened they cannot be recycled or used by anyone else once they have left a community pharmacy and have to be destroyed.

Dr Ritchieson added: “The last thing we would want is for anyone to think that they suddenly need to stop taking their prescription medication.

“All we ask is that people check what they have at home before they re-order and think carefully before ticking all the boxes on their repeat prescription form.

“We also ask that people finish the course of medicine they are on, check what’s in their prescription bag before they leave the pharmacy and ensure that repeat prescriptions are regularly reviewed by a pharmacist or GP.”

To find out more about the campaign go online to or follow @WestCheshireCCG.