Meducate, let’s get smarter about medicines in north Kent

In partnership with Healthwatch Kent, we have drawn on feedback from patients and clinicians to create the Meducate campaign, which aims to raise awareness of how we could make better use of medicines in our area and support our local NHS services.

Consider over-the-counter remedies for common ailments

Most common ailments don’t need prescription medicines. Your local pharmacist is a medicines expert who can advise on the best way to treat colds, coughs, sore throats, hay fever, verrucas, digestive problems and more.

On average, it is estimated that around £2.6million (the equivalent of the cost to the NHS for around 60,000 GP appointments, or approximately 100 extra nurses) is prescribed to patients for common ailments that may not need prescription medicines. Items including normal dosage paracetamol and ibuprofen are readily available at very low cost via local pharmacies and supermarkets.

We could all help our local NHS by being smart about where we get our remedies for cold symptoms, sore throats, minor aches and pains and digestive problems, and where medically appropriate – not asking for prescriptions for over-the-counter treatments helps save an enormous amount NHS time and resources.

It is worth remembering that your local pharmacist is a medicines expert who can advise on most common health issues, and tell you which treatments are available to buy. They usually have private areas if you wish to talk to them confidentially and can see you without an appointment.#

Download over-the-counter poster

Antibiotics – be a superhero and defend their power

The message is simple, but often overlooked: if we overuse antibiotics when we don’t need them, they can affect the body’s ability to fight off future infections.

Antibiotics only work on certain bacterial infections, and NOT on viruses like colds and flu.

We all should avoid requesting antibiotics to treat these types of infections as they are ineffective and can often reduce the power of the immune system if used too often. More widely, overuse can also cause bacteria to become more resistant to medicines and harder to combat with antibiotics in the future.

If your GP does prescribe antibiotics for a bacterial infection, make sure you follow the doctor’s instructions carefully and take the recommended dose, right through until you have finished the full course of medication. It is also important that any leftover tablets are not given to family and friends but disposed of safely.

Let’s all help defend the power of antibiotics, and use them sparingly for when they are truly effective – at fighting bacterial infections, which include very serious infections such as meningitis and sepsis.

Antibiotics advice from NHS Choices.

Download antibiotics poster

Download antibiotics superhero poster

Stocking up on your prescription medicines ‘just in case’…creates waste

  • Only request medicines when they are needed
  • If you no longer use a medicine, tell your GP
  • Pharmacists can help you to manage your medicines

It’s great to be prepared and order you medicines in plenty of time to ensure you don’t run out – but your prescription medicines are tailored to you, and repeat prescriptions should only be requested as and when needed and not stockpiled in large amounts for a rainy day.

Any medicines that are not used, or pass their use-by date are unsafe to take and cannot be recycled or given to someone else – so they often end up in the waste bin. It is estimated that this could be costing the local NHS around £2.7million per year in north Kent, which could be better spent in providing more healthcare services for local patients.

Make sure you check your repeat prescription form and only tick the boxes for the medicines you need. If in any doubt, ask your doctor or pharmacist who can help you to understand your medicines and manage them to get the best results for you.

Many GP surgeries offer an online repeat prescription service, which can make it easy to keep track of the medicines you have ordered.

Download repeat prescriptions poster

Download unused medicines poster

More information:

How to help you and your family stay well over winter.

Pharmacy opening times in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley.

Where to go for health help in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley.