Meducate – getting smarter with medicines

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

The messages are simple, but often overlooked.

Bal Minhas, lead pharmacist at Swale CCG, explains: “Antibiotics only work on certain bacterial infections, and not on viruses like colds and flu. It is important to avoid requesting antibiotics to treat colds and flu as antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of the body’s immune system if used too often.

“It is worth remembering, your local pharmacist is a medicines expert who can advise on common health issues.”

An estimated £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 in north Kent for common ailments that may not need prescription medicines. Items including normal dosage paracetamol and ibuprofen are readily available at very low cost from local pharmacies and supermarkets.

Dr Fiona Armstrong, CCG Chair and local GP, says: “It’s great to be prepared and order you medicines in plenty of time so you don’t run out, especially before bank holidays. But remember, your repeat prescriptions should only be requested when needed – not stockpiled in large amounts for a rainy day.

“We can all help our local NHS by being smart about where we get 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.” Visit www.meducatenhs.org or talk to your pharmacist or GP.