Reusable medication bags help homeless patients in Cornwall

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The Naturesave Trust have provided funding for a project run by Oak Tree Surgery & Pensilva Health Centre to provide reusable waterproof medication bags to the homeless community in their local area. The surgery, working in collaboration with Volunteer Cornwall, local community projects and homeless charities, will be distributing the bags to patients currently experiencing housing difficulties to ensure their medication remains dry and effective.

The project will help homeless patients to store their medications in a safe condition, and allow prescribers to adhere to NHS eco guidelines for example, prescribing powder inhalers (DPIs) to patients in line with environmentally friendly NHS guidelines.  Currently homeless patients are often unable to use these due to the units getting wet, therefore rendering the powder useless, leaving the only option of prescribing aerosol inhalers which contributes 4% of the NHS carbon footprint.  Other medications can also be subject to damp if not stored properly.

When medication becomes unusable (in this case, due to being exposed to the elements), this is rarely return to a pharmacy for correct disposal, meaning this medication often makes its way into our water ways, along with the plastic packaging it comes in. This also clearly leaves a vulnerable person without correct and most likely vital medication. Having a reusable bag may also deter patients from buying single use plastic bags to try and keep medication dry too.  Overall, the less medication that is wasted, the less plastic packing ends up in landfill, incineration, or our environment. This initiative will benefit both the planet, and some of Cornwall’s most vulnerable population.

The Naturesave Trust have been very generous in funding this project, providing 1530 extra strong reinforced reusable bags to be donated.  The bags are made from responsibly sourced, 95% recycled materials.

Oak Tree Surgery & Pensilva Health Centre are NHS GP practices in Cornwall. You can learn more about their work here.