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NHS Western Isles is running a medicines awareness campaign to encourage those in our communities to take a fresh look at the medications they are taking and to take simple steps to help avoid medicines waste. 

As we approach February, we are raising awareness of the Green Bag Scheme: what it is, how it’s used and why it’s important.   

Green Bags are heavy duty plastic bags designed for patients to keep all their medicines in one secure place. It is important for patients to take their medicines with them when they are admitted to hospital for elective admissions or emergencies. This includes all prescribed medicines such as pills, tablets, bottles, and creams.   

Where do I get a Green Bag?  

Before being discharged from hospital, patients will meet with a Hospital Pharmacist who will help review their prescribed medications and answer any questions. On discharge, patients will be supplied with a Green Bag with all their medicines to take home.   

Once home, patients are encouraged to keep their Green Bag in an accessible place, out of reach of children. The Green Bag should be brought with the patient to hospital and will be stored in the patient's bedside locker. If a patient is transferred to another ward, the Green Bag will be transferred with them, as well as when they are discharged from hospital.  

NHS Western Isles Chief Pharmacist, Dr Liam Callaghan, said: “It is a simple scheme which will help our patients manage their medicines at home and reduce the risks of missing or delaying medicine doses when admitted to hospital.”    

The Green Bag scheme enhances quality of care and overall patient experience and has shown to:  

  • Improve patient safety  
  • Reduce drug costs and waste  
  • Prevent administrative delays  
  • Provide patients with a physical reminder, and the means of bringing all their medicines when admitted to hospital for emergencies and elective admissions  
  • Make it easier for NHS staff to find out which medicines a patient is taking   

What else can I do to effectively manage my medications?   

Every year in NHS Scotland, £20 million is spent on medicines waste.  The biggest problem coming from repeat prescriptions that people no longer need or use. Help the NHS avoid medicines waste by only ordering repeat medications if you need them and remember, unused medications are unable to be reused.  

If you have quantities of out-of-date or no longer used prescribed medications, please return these medications to your GP Practice or local pharmacy to ensure they are safely disposed of. Binning or flushing unwanted prescribed medications can harm the local environment, cause risk to other people, and also cause household toilet/water contamination.  It’s also important to make sure there are no unused medications in your home, to help avoid harm or risk to others within or visiting the household – medications can be a huge safety risk for children and others who might take them. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your medications, or a prescription, do not hesitate to ask your GP, Practice Nurse or Pharmacist.   

If you are not sure what your medicines are for, or you are worried about using them, please talk to your GP Practice, or Community Pharmacist.  Alternatively contact your GP Practice to make an appointment with the Primary Care Pharmacy team. 

Healthcare is always changing... it’s always OK to ask. #letstalkmedicines