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Medicine wastage and prescribing errors means millions lost by NHS

Research published in an ExPD Medicines Inventory Control System (MICS) report has revealed that an estimated 1,700 lives are lost each year and £300million of unnecessary costs are absorbed annually by the NHS because of poor medicine stock management and avoidable prescribing errors.

ExPD carried out research into prescription management and dispensing in hospitals, pharmacies and healthcare environments in the UK, focusing on how errors and medicine wastage can be avoided.

The resulting MICS report reveals that:

  • An estimated £300million is lost due to medicine wastage in the NHS each year
  • 237 million medication errors are made every year in England costing the NHS upwards of £98 million
  • 1 out of 4 medication errors (26%) have the potential to cause harm to patients
  • A medicine stock management system can help reduce waste in hospitals, care homes and pharmacies, keeping costs down

According to the report, when the total spend on medicines by the NHS was £17.1bn, over £300million of this is lost due to wastage. Supplies are either unused or go out of date and £50million of NHS supplied medicines that are disposed if are unused by care homes. The University of Roehampton reported unnecessary prescribing of medicines was another reason for wastage, costing upwards of £500million. This money could be spent on patient care such as:

  • 80,906 hip replacements
  • 101,351 knee replacements
  • 19,799 drug treatment courses for breast cancer
  • 11,778 community nurses
  • 300,000 drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s

Adrian Harris, ExPD Managing Director said: “What we have found is that medication errors and wastage are preventable issues that could be saving the NHS millions each year. We believe that with better stock management systems, such as automated smart lockers, hospitals, pharmacies and care homes can not only save money which can be spent on improving patient care, but increase the accuracy of issuing medications while reducing reportable clinical incidents, paperwork, theft and the risk of errors.”

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Emma Cooper
Emma Cooper
Emma is Digital Editor at Pf.


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