Why do medicines need managing?


Over 700 million prescription items are dispensed in England each year at a total cost approaching £8 billion (Prescription Pricing Authority, 2005/2006). In a typical hospital, nurses can spend up to 40% of their time administering around 7,000 individual doses each day.
However, there is evidence to suggest that people need more help to enable them to make the best possible use of these medicines. For example, up to half of all medicines prescribed are not taken as intended and up to 17% of hospital admissions are related to problems with medicines. This percentage is even higher in some vulnerable groups of people such as those living with long term conditions. 9% of reported patient safety incidents in hospitals are related to medication and medication errors have been estimated to cost the NHS £ 500 million a year in additional days spent in hospital.
Medicines management needs to be considered wherever medicines are used. It is everyone’s business. It is something that should be recognized, owned and practiced by managers as well as clinical professionals of every discipline. For example, NHS organisations need to ensure that they include medicines management in their corporate and clinical governance and controls assurance arrangements. In addition, patients and their carers need to be empowered and enabled to take an active role in managing their medicines. A major challenge in this respect is to move from a fragmented, sector-specific approach to a fully integrated system and to ensure a common methodology for the selection, procurement, delivery and prescribing etc. of medicines.