Gransnet forums


AIBU to wonder whether people take th NHS for granted?

(69 Posts)
Rivernana Thu 10-Oct-19 20:40:22

My BH is recovering from a serious illness and major operation. We had all sorts of problems with diagnosis and treatment. The excuse is always 'shortages / lack of resources'. We also witnessed huge amounts of waste in terms of medication and equipment. So I looked into it and discovered that research in 2015 put the estimated level of waste of unused medication at £300 million- this does not include wasted mobility and other equipment, costs of incineration of medicines and the paperwork involved. This figure has most certainly rocketed. So I started a petition for the Health Secretary to roll out a nationwide programme to educate the public and others in the Health profession to reduce this waste and to allow certain unused/sealed/in date items such as dressings to be donated. The link to the petition is
I am disappointed with the lackadaisical response.

Elegran Thu 10-Oct-19 20:54:51

Have you publicised it, rivernana ? Facebook and other social media sites spread petitions through peope sharing it with friends and passing it on. Newspaper articles draw attention to it, you could ask at GP sugeries, churches, community hubs, libraries and so on to be allowed to put up a poster. Apologies if you have already done this.

Rivernana Fri 11-Oct-19 07:07:06

Year I have done as much as I can to publicise it and am trying to find a balance between being a pest and yet pushing something I feel very strongly about. Am still plodding on and have printed a paper version for people who don't use computers to sign. The newspapers I have approached so far are not interested. Apologies not needed - any ideas very welcome thanks! I will ask the local libraries and my Church as well. GPs don't want to get involved and Pharmacies are very wary.

Maggiemaybe Fri 11-Oct-19 07:59:14

This is such a serious issue, all power to your elbow.

I order DH’s repeat prescriptions online and noticed last time I did it that all repeat prescriptions not collected within 2 weeks will be destroyed. There can be no justification for this.

Callistemon Fri 11-Oct-19 13:36:23

I think that waste is a huge problem, Rivernana, which needs to be addressed.

Repeat prescriptions which are not needed result in people stockpiling medicines which they do not need and do not take.
Equipment which is not recycled etc.

Nonnie Fri 11-Oct-19 13:50:52

Totally agree, NHS saves millions but doesn't save small amounts.

Where we used to live our pharmacist would order all our meds when they became due. Where we now live they have stopped that and save a lot of money.

I was taking 100mg of my meds 5 days a week and 1 x 25 mg + 50 mg twice a week. I asked if it would be just as effective if I changed to 50mg once a week and 100 mg the rest. They were amazed and said no one else thought about small savings.

I was recently given a hip appointment at the hospital but by the time it came I had tried resting it instead of working through it so cancelled the appointment in order to save all the scans, physio etc. It is still not right but has improved.

If we all looked for minor savings I am sure it would it would help but I think the NHS has a lot to do itself. Anyone know why there are TVs in hospital waiting rooms? They have to be regularly electrically tested even if they were gifts.

silverlining48 Fri 11-Oct-19 14:30:07

Agree entirely, signed. Good luck with the petition.

paddyann Fri 11-Oct-19 16:19:44

I've noticed NHS Scotland advertiisng for the return of mobility aids and things used in the home that are no longer needed .I thought people always handed things back.I know ehn I broke my foot and had crutches I couldn't wait to see the back of the bloomin things,so they were handed in asap.

Mazdalady Fri 11-Oct-19 16:23:56

First time poster - I work in a big teaching hospital and you are quite right the waste is unbelievable and a lot of it is a) because it’s invisible money and b) health and safety gone mad - for instance sandwiches in the ward fridge on their sell by date (not eat by)are binned - not passed over to a charity for the rough sleepers because somebody might get ill and sue.
After the listeria crisis all the fridges were thrown away (not even trying to sell them) not because there was anything wrong but because they decided it would be safer to have industrial fridges but there was a hiatus between taking the old fridge out and the new fridge arriving so no milk available
And please don’t get me started on the number of staff on “long term sick” who we actually know have very little wrong with them but because it’s the NHS really take liberties - it just wouldn’t happen in a private company
And instead of asking if anybody would like to work a few extra hours a job will be advertised at less than 10 hours per week with all the additional costs that that entails - just a few examples of the top of my head

Rivernana Fri 11-Oct-19 18:58:38

Hope you will all consider signing and sharing my petition and many thanks if you have done so. I sincerely think together we can make a difference. Not a case of complain, blame, shame - just a matter of let us roll up our sleeves and get something done.

Deedaa Fri 11-Oct-19 23:12:27

I had a GP appointment this week and we were talking about the problems of unused medication, (apologies to whoever was waiting forages to see him after me) I told him about the massive bag of assorted drugs I had to take back to the pharmacy after DH died. There was quite a selection because a lot of them were prescribed for side effects which might or might not happen. He said that even people like Medicin sans Frontiers won't take unopened drugs incase they've been tampered with. Our local pharmacy always orders my repeat prescription for me, but when I pick the meds up every month they ask me which ones I need the following month.

Hetty58 Fri 11-Oct-19 23:35:15

So much waste all round! A large proportion (30 - 50%) of prescribed medicines are either not taken, or not used correctly:

Are doctors sometimes inclined to prescribe something (unnecessarily) just to meet patients' expectations?

Doodledog Sat 12-Oct-19 00:25:23

On a slightly different note, I am having physiotherapy for arthritis, and I get at least three texts before each appointment, reminding me to attend, and pointing out that every missed appointment costs the NHS £160.

Now I quite agree that patients should attend appointments, and I would never just miss a commitment of any kind; but I really don't know how the figure of £160 is arrived at. I'm sure that physios don't earn that kind of money, and most of them use GP surgeries, which are already heated, cleaned etc, so those oncosts won't apply.

I would attend even if the appointments were zero cost; but can anyone explain how a missed appointment is so expensive, please?

Elegran Sat 12-Oct-19 09:52:13

Doodledog the sum was probably arrived at by adding up all the costs of the whole premises in which the physiotherapist works (heat, light, water rate, receptionist, cleaners, nightwatchmen, maintenance and repairs, phone bills etc, plus the rent or the building costs of the building itself), then dividing that by the number of people holding appointments there and the hours that it is used. Add the salary and the costs of employing the qualified professional (the costs of an employee add up to almost their salary over again), and insurance against malpractice or accidents.

You would probably be amazed at how much an hour of their time is really worth - £160 could be a low figure.

Witzend Sat 12-Oct-19 10:30:07

Some people do, certainly. Had a friend who would stockpile a mass of free prescription items - only to have them thrown away - over and over, He was very comfortably off but very tight with money, and I'm sure that if he'd had to pay even £2 or £3 per item, he'd never have taken so many items he didn't need.
And I'm sure he's not the only one. Personally I think that better off pensioners should have to pay something for prescriptions. A Swedish friend tells me that in Sweden everybody pays, albeit a small amount - with an annual cap for those who need a lot.

As for generally taking the NHS for granted, I'm reminded of the time my sister, who lives in the US, had a very badly cut finger.
I said, 'Well, at least you're covered by your health insurance.'
(She was paying about $800 a month for self and daughter.)

She said, 'You're joking - there was a $2000 excess.'

And we just go down to A & E.

EllanVannin Sat 12-Oct-19 13:15:36

If I had to pay for my prescriptions I'd be well and truly ripped off because 2 items that I know of are " 10 a penny ". I'd pay the going rate but not above and beyond what they cost.

aggie Sat 12-Oct-19 13:29:01

I recently got a new walker with wheels and a basket , one friend was amazed that I had bought it locally and not on prescription .
My previous one was given me by a cousin who didn’t need it , and he had bought it
So much will not be taken back by the Hospital , I was given crutches by the Physio ,after my hip operation even though I had some at home , she wouldn’t sign me off unless I took them ,
Then they wouldn’t accept them back , so it is not the patients fault in a lot of cases

TerriBull Sat 12-Oct-19 13:30:58

Our sons, when they were going through teens and heavily into rollerblades and skateboards managed to do themselves a mischief a couple of times and ended up on crutches on the odd occasion. Once they were mobile again we duly took these back to our local cottage hospital from whence they came. A doctor friend of my husband who is half Pakistani told us that they often don't get used again. From time to time he arranged for consignments of such aids to be shipped to Pakistan where they were used.

Sallywally1 Sat 12-Oct-19 18:34:00

They are usually bought by the ‘Friends’ of the hospital who fundraiser. All hospital electrical equipment is regularly checked and a label stuck on to say it is safe.

I do agree about waste; I have worked in the NHS for 35 years and have seen so much waste I could cry. I have an idea that everyone who works in the NHS (on every level from cleaners to top professors) should be asked to come up with at least one money saving idea and/or ideas to stop wastage.

Candelle Sat 12-Oct-19 18:43:31

I will sign.

Some years ago I broke my left leg and right foot. I was immobile for six weeks. I had a chest-high walking frame and a pair of crutches to help me walk when I was able.

On completion of my recovery, I tried to take these appliances back to the hospital but was told in no uncertain terms that they would not be accepted. Why? 'Infection', was the answer.

These were (I believe) aluminium and could surely have been swabbed down and reused.

The disposability of these crutches was, in my view, completely unacceptable.

Rivernana Sun 13-Oct-19 09:48:22

Incredible stories coming in. I have now written to the Health Secretary and copied (by e mail) my local Conservative MP. Totally agree that some medicines can't be reused even if they are unopened/ in date, due to doubts about storage, but what about the amount of medicines returned within hours, sometimes minutes because they have been dispensed in error, or the unused medicines held in controlled conditions in hospitals or Care Homes? Also, as mentioned, overseas aid will certainly accept a lot of mobility equipment, needle exchanges will accept unused syringes, animal charities (like my local Hedgehog Rescue) will gratefully accept dressings and other items, and shelters for the homeless will accept food supplements etc. In terms of managing distribution it could simply be a matter of having a centralised collection point, like food banks, where such organisations can come and collect items they can use from time to time. The list of benefits in reusing whatever possible is endless. Such casual waste is morally wrong. I appreciate that the government is preoccupied with Brexit but life goes on, sick people still need to be treated and savings need to be made wherever possible if we are to keep our NHS healthy and still functioning for generations to come.

Fiachna50 Sun 13-Oct-19 10:48:53

Well, things must have changed. Many years ago I was a carer for a relative. When the person sadly died, eventually we had to clear their home(awful time). My relative was a wheelchair user, so, there was the wheelchair and various types of equipment and the hospital would not take them back. They didn't want the various items! We couldn't give these away!!!In the end I think a charity took them. If this was the attitude then, no wonder they were losing money. It was a shocking waste. This was Scotland, so Im assuming by Paddyann's post thankfully things are different now.

HootyMcOwlface Sun 13-Oct-19 11:01:27

Same experience as Fiachna50 - I had 3 shower/commode chairs cluttering up my garage a while back that I couldn’t get rid of, they didn’t want them back. Eventually (can’t remember how) I did get the people who bring this stuff to take them but the chap collecting said they’d be dumped and not reused. They were perfectly fine, and barely used, just not suitable for us.

trisher Sun 13-Oct-19 11:04:16

When my mum died the aids she had had for many years were collected by the people who supplied them.
I think this isn't a viable option for the NHS as the cost of checking, storing, transporting and delivering the drugs would be huge. Who would pay ? Any savings would be minimal because of this cost.
Perhaps it would be possible to create a charity which could deal with these things but our NHS shouldn't be responsible.
As for the idea that because drugs have only been out of the chemists for a few hours they are safe to reuse, it only takes a moment to add something toxic.

fizzers Sun 13-Oct-19 11:06:54

I was once prescribed the wrong repeat medication - something I had stopped taking a long time ago, Just as well I looked at it in the chemist and told them, the assistant told me that once the medication has a label on it , it has to be destroyed and can't be used again, what a waste, I'd not even left the chemist counter.