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Green Bag Medicines Scheme Launched

A new scheme which will improve safety and reduce medicines waste when patients are admitted to hospital is being launched at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

The 'green bag' scheme will make it easier for NHS staff to find out which medicines a patient is taking when they are admitted for a planned operation or procedure, or in an emergency case.

Any drugs being taken by the patient will be placed in a green, easy to identify, reusable bag, with the right dosage information.

The new initiative will benefit patients and NHS staff as it will help the right medicines to be given without delay, with relevant drugs all in the same place including up to date information about what the patient should take and when.

Sally Bell, Deputy Chief Pharmacist at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: "When patients bring their medicines into hospital it helps the doctors, nurses and pharmacy staff know straight away exactly what treatment they are taking. This ensures that we can continue treatment without any delay. For patients with long term health conditions, this can be vitally important.

"Patients' own medicines will normally be used for treatment whilst in hospital and on discharge. This can help reduce discharge waiting times and reduce any unnecessary waste of medicines.

"For the scheme to work successfully, staff involved at all stages of the process need to be aware of how it works and play their part in the process."

When ambulance crews pick up patients, they will put all relevant medication - both prescribed and over the counter - in a green bag, clearly marked with the patient's name and address, to take to hospital.

On arrival at hospital, the green bag will be handed over to the admitting nurse, who will arrange for storage and administration of the drugs.

Green bags will usually be stored in patients' bedside lockers or in an appropriate designated place. If a patient is transferred to another ward, the green bag will be transferred with them.

Green bags will be stocked in various locations, including outpatients departments, accident and emergency, critical care, medical admissions units and hospital pharmacy departments.

North east ambulances, including 999 vehicles and non-emergency patient transport services, will also carry the bags, to increase the number of people arriving at hospital with the right drugs for their existing health conditions.

Hospital pharmacies are encouraging the bags to be given out at pre-admission clinics and, in the longer term, it is hoped that the green bags will be included with patients' admission letters.

The bags will be promoted by posters and leaflets in GP surgeries, community pharmacies and hospital outpatient departments across the region.

'I have to compliment everyone on their pleasant persona and their expertise and knowledge. By the end of the 5 days, I did not feel as though I had been in a hospital ward and was very relaxed.'

Patient, Ward 16 Orthopaedics, University Hospital of North Durham