The appropriate use of medicines was discussed at the recent Belfast Local Commissioning Group meeting at the Skainos Centre, Belfast. Speaking at the meeting, Dr Terry Maguire, Chair of the Belfast Local Commissioning Group (LCG) and a practising community pharmacist, said:
“Medicines are used by lots of people and are helpful in many cases – their proper use requires doctors, pharmacists and patients to be working together. It is important that medicines are reviewed regularly and are ordered appropriately to prevent wastage of valuable health service resources. Medicines are an important part of today’s modern healthcare and to be effective they should be used properly.
“As medicines can cost a lot of money, it is important that everyone works together to ensure that we are only ordering and using medicines that are really needed.”
Patients over 60 years old take an average of 4 medicines a day, patients over 85 years old take an average of 8 medicines a day. 6% of hospital admissions are as a result of medicine side-effects, and in the over 85s this is as much as 30%.
The Health and Social Care Board is working with doctors and community pharmacists to encourage review of patients’ medication and ensure that patients are getting the best benefits from the medicines they take. There can be wastage when medicines are not regularly reviewed or stopped when they are no longer needed by a patient or when they cause side effects. It is important that patients should only order what is needed.
Dr Maguire said:
“If you haven’t had your medicines reviewed for some time, you can ask your doctor and/or pharmacist for a medicines review. By working together we can ensure better outcomes for patients and save money which the Belfast LCG can reinvest to reduce social inequalities and chronic disease and ultimately benefit patient care.”