You and your medicines

Reporting side effects

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)  ensures that healthcare products meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy. It keeps watch over medicines and devices, and take necessary action to protect the public promptly if there is a problem.

The MHRA runs the Yellow Card scheme, which collects and monitors information on suspected safety concerns involving a healthcare products, like a side effect with a medicine or an adverse medical device incident. The scheme relies on voluntary reporting of problems to a healthcare product by the public (including patients, parents and carer givers) as well as from healthcare professionals. The scheme also collects suspected safety concerns involving defective (not of an acceptable quality), falsified or fake healthcare products.

Anyone – patients and clinicians – can report side effects and problems. Reporting suspected adverse effects to medicines as soon as they happen helps improve safety for future patients.

See the Yellow Card scheme website for more information.

Wasted or unused medicine

Wasted or unused medicine is a serious and growing problem within the NHS that you can help tackle.

Medicines that are requested on prescriptions but then not used are sometimes referred to as Medicines Waste. Nationally, for every £25 spent on prescription medication, £1 is wasted – and the same is true across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

It is estimated that across the area, £8 million is spent on unused medication every year and £300 million is spent nationally.

The NHS pays for every medicine it dispenses, there is no such thing as a free prescription, and if it is not needed by the patient the NHS also pays for the medicines to be disposed of.

By talking and listening to the local community, GPs, pharmacies and other healthcare professionals it’s clear how important it is that we tackle the issue of medicine waste, particularly at a time when locally and nationally the NHS system is facing major challenges to meet the demand for services within available resources.

We need your help

Reducing medicines waste is a key focus for us at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (ICB) but it is not something we can do alone.

We need your help to work together to stop medicines waste across the area, reduce the spend, and get more from your local NHS.

We want to raise awareness amongst the public and need to get residents in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire to:

  • check what you already have at home before you order more
  • tell your doctor if you stop taking your medication
  • speak to your pharmacist if you are receiving medicines you don’t use.

Finding advice on medications

We want you to get the best from your medicines so, if you need advice on any aspect of your medication, please speak to your local pharmacist.

Find your nearest pharmacy Conditions A-Z

Why it’s important to keep your GP informed

If your GP prescribes medication to treat a condition, it’s important to take it in exactly the way that it’s been prescribed to receive the most benefit.

If you stop taking your medication – or if you stop taking it in the way your doctor prescribed – please make an appointment to talk to your doctor about this. They’ll help you to make an informed choice about your medication and may be able to prescribe an alternative.

Please don’t be afraid to tell them that you’ve stopped following their prescription – it’s much better that they know.

The role of the medicines management team

Our medicines management team supports GPs, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to prescribe the most appropriate, cost-effective and safe medicines, and to share easy-to-understand information about these medications with their patients.