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Health / One thousand items of medication handed in during ‘amnesty’ week

The medication which was handed in on Monday alone. Photo: NHS Shetland

OVER 1,000 items of medication have been handed in so far as part of a week-long initiative by NHS Shetland encouraging folk to clear their cupboards of old medicine.

By Friday afternoon over 100 people had returned old or unused medicine to Lerwick Health Centre.

NHS Shetland specialist pharmacy technician Keiran Groat said some of the most common medicine handed in were anti-depressants, the painkiller co-codamol and stomach acid medication omeprazole.

“It’s been really, really successful so far,” Groat said. “It seems to be helping people, so that’s good.

“We have easily passed around 1,000 items.”

The initiative is concluding with a stint at the Gilbert Bain Hospital tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am to midday.

The medicine itself will be sent south for incineration.

It was stressed that unused medicine, meanwhile, can be accepted at any time by pharmacies and health centres.

Groat said one thing that has become clear through the amnesty is that Shetland people generally adhere to the rules when it comes to taking medication.

A lot of the returned medicine has been left unused because of the prescription changing or stopped, while some people have brought in items which had been given to loved ones before they passed away.

There is no figure yet on the cost to the NHS of the unused medication, partly because some of it will be over the counter items.

It is unclear whether another amnesty drop-in event will be held in the near future, but there could be the option to run more general campaigns to encourage people to clear out their cupboards.

“For now I’m really grateful people have come on this horrendous week of weather,” Groat said.

Referring to some criticism on social media of the use of the word ‘amnesty’ and its association with criminality, Groat said one of the key aims was to provide a “supportive and non-judgemental environment”.

“It’s the process of it that’s important,” he said. “People, particularly the people we have seen this week, they are not pleased they are coming back with medicine. They are quite embarrassed about it.”