Last year the NHS spent £8.8 billion on prescriptions.
That's a lot of money, and a lot of prescriptions - over a billion items. Unfortunately every single one of these items would have been handed out in a bag. Pharmacies and GP surgeries are not allowed to hand out medicines for you to put straight in your own 'bag-for-life', as you might do when you shop for groceries. Instead, our fantastic dispensers Delia and Veronica carefully select and label your items, place them lovingly in bags (think Rowan Atkinson in Love Actually), and arrange them on the shelves in neat little alphabetised rows. You can bet they make great present-wrappers at Christmas.
Here's what OSMP can be proud of on the subject of bags:
Our paper prescription bags are 100% recycled paper and fully compostable. Please reuse them at home or enrich your garden soil!
We always use the smallest possible bag. Hopefully our tiny 2p bags. They are really quite cute.
Our bags have important safety messages on them, reminding patients not to share medication and to store them out of reach of children.
Have a look at these ideas on how you can help us:
Open your prescription bag before you leave the building and check the contents - if there's something in there that is ineffective or your no longer require, let us know immediately. Once the items have left our (or the pharmacist's) premises they cannot be put back into our stock or reused for someone else, they are simply wasted. In York wasted medicines costs £1 million every year. Just in York! Gulp.
Seek Pharmacy advice for minor ailment treats. Medicines for conditions such as constipation, thrush, and hayfever can be bought over-the-counter for a quarter of the cost that the NHS pays for them.
Are you one of our patients receiving items in a plastic bag? We will soon be asking you to please return your plastic bag for us to put your next prescription in. Every little counts!
And finally, if you have a useful or quirky idea for what to do with your leftover prescription bags, post a photo or email us and it will feature on this blog...