Initiative to raise awareness of managing your medications to be rolled out across Wales

‘Your Medicines, Your Health’, a Bevan Exemplar project based in Cwm Taf University Health Board, has been awarded funding by the Welsh Government to support implementation across all Health Boards in Wales.

Unused medications cost NHS Wales millions of pounds per year, but more importantly patients are not getting the benefit from the medication that they are prescribed. Now ‘Your Medicines, Your Health’ (YMYH), an initiative to tackle medicine non-compliance, will be rolled out across Wales to reduce waste and stockpiling by promoting better communication between and pharmacists, doctors and patients.

The Welsh Government has awarded funding to ‘Your Medicines, Your Health’, a Bevan Exemplar project based in Cwm Taf University Health Board, to ensure that patients across Wales will benefit from targeted messaging about how they can better use and recycle medicines.

If a patient stockpiles medication, it can be the first indication that the medication is not right for them (in terms of side effects and health outcomes), or just that they are choosing not to take it. ‘Your Medicines, Your Health’ encourages people to talk to their pharmacist if they are unable to take a medication so that they can find an alternative solution together. The key message is: “take them if you can, tell us if you can’t”.

Patients are provided with pens and appointment cards which include pre-written prompts, such as “I think I may have a problem with my medication”. This encourages the patient to set an appointment time with their pharmacist and start a conversation about their medication needs.

The initiative also runs annual ‘spring cleaning’ campaigns to encourage people to clear old medicines out of cupboards. A partnership between ‘Your Medicines, Your Health’ and GSK, facilitated by the Bevan Commission, enables patients to recycle their inhalers by taking used inhalers into their local pharmacies.

In combination with targeted messaging and initiatives for patients, pharmacists have also been asked to conduct a medicines use review (MUR) to ensure their prescriptions suit patient needs.

Martin Davies, Chief Pharmacist Lead for Community Hospitals in Cwm Taf, said: “Patients have many valid reasons for not taking their medicines as prescribed, but whatever that reason is, it is absolutely vital that they tell their pharmacist or doctor so that a more appropriate solution can be found. YMYH promotes this conversation and we are very pleased that patients from all across Wales will now be encouraged and supported to get the most from their medicines and be healthy for longer.”

Helen Howson, Director of the Bevan Commission, said: “We are delighted to see that this Exemplar initiative has received Welsh Government support to roll out nationwide. The Bevan Commission’s prudent healthcare approach reinforces the need for everyone to use all available resources wisely. This project demonstrates just that and shows how everyone can play a part. Stockpiling medicines is a major issue and cause of great waste for NHS Wales. We hope that this innovative approach will now engage members of the public across Wales and will make a real difference.”

The initiative was recently showcased at the NHS Benchmarking & Good Practice in Pharmacy & Medicines Optimisation conference in London, and is hoped this Welsh model will provide a best practice template for NHS systems in other parts of the UK and beyond.

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