Today on OpenPrescribing.net we have launched our Greener NHS prescribing dashboards. Over recent months there has been increasing attention on the environment and the effects society is having on climate change. The NHS announced specific targets as part of its long term plan to become more sustainable, reduce waste and shift to lower carbon inhalers. At OpenPrescribing we have already launched our first prescribing measure related to the environment and this week we are launching our Greener NHS prescribing dashboard for every single general practice, primary care network (PCN), clinical commissioning group (CCG), sustainability and transformation partnership (STP), NHS region and for the whole of England.To access your Greener NHS prescribing dashboard, simply go to your organisation’s measures page and select “Greener NHS” from the drop-down. You can read more about our categories here or watch our short Youtube video.
What are the prescribing measures and why does it matter?
We hope the Greener NHS prescribing dashboards will support practices, CCGs and other organisations to review their prescribing and make changes, where clinically appropriate, to support a more sustainable NHS. We currently have two measures on our Greener NHS prescribing dashboards.
Inhalers and the environment
We have written previously about our measure of metered dose inhalers prescribed as a proportion of all inhalers in BNF Chapter 3, excluding salbutamol. The NHS long term plan specifically mentions encouraging a shift to dry powder inhalers, where clinically appropriate, which are less harmful to the environment.
Seven day prescribing for long term conditions – Medicines Compliance Aids
There is no current consensus on duration of most prescriptions across the NHS and prescribers are advised to write a prescription for a clinically appropriate duration. For medicines treating stable long-term conditions, many areas have policies in place recommending one, two, or three month prescriptions; however, sometimes seven-day prescriptions are issued to support the supply of Medicines Compliance Aids (dosette boxes).
Our previous blog on seven-day prescribing covered the lack of evidence, heightened safety risk and increased workload related to seven-day prescribing and medicines compliance aids, but there are also potential negative effects on the environment. Firstly, issuing prescriptions every seven days requires an increased number of journeys either by the patient to collect the medicines or by the pharmacy delivery driver delivering medicines to a patient’s home. Secondly, many medicines compliance aids are made from single use plastics or cardboard and many will not or cannot be recycled.
More measures please
At the DataLab we are keen to do more to support a Greener NHS and we’d love you to get in touch with ideas for new prescribing measures. At the DataLab we are always keen to hear from people who would like to collaborate with us on projects so if you have particular expertise around the environment and making medicines more sustainable please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter https://twitter.com/openprescribing