Winner: University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust
An audit conducted over one week in the spring of 2012 at University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) identified that £9,000-worth of unused medicines a week were being destroyed for various reasons, equating to almost £500,000 a year.
Although it was recognised that a certain quantity could not be saved because of incorrect storage and expiry date, a significant amount could be, if returned in the appropriate way. In response to this a Medicines Waste Project Group, led by a small pharmacy team, was implemented at UHNM to promote good practice and to limit financial loss associated with drug waste.
In the first year savings of £225,000 were made through recycling medicines within the organisation and reducing medicines waste.
The challenge was maintaining momentum, enthusiasm and focus within the organisation to sustain the process and embed good practice. This was met by a dedicated and passionate team of staff in pharmacy stores who have continued to implement the service, monitor waste, challenge poor practice, identify causes of waste and offer preventative solutions.
The project has huge potential to save cost and waste, in a method that is easily replicable across the NHS. The passion, intent and the collaborative approach should be embraced by the NHS and the ethos could be applied in other areas
Year-on-year savings have continued and waste has been reduced, due to the dedication of this small team of people, who are largely invisible to the organisation, but responsible for substantial savings for the Trust and local health economy.
What is exceptional is the sustainability of the project and the stewardship of medicines waste. Many projects have significant effects in their first year, but enthusiasm can wane and results peter out. But this team has maintained momentum and continued to maintain performance over an extended period – which needs to be seen in the context of a busy hospital environment.
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