Our medicines team includes pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who work to bring together all those involved in the use of medicines in Dorset. 

The team works alongside our partners in Dorset to ensure what matters most about your medicines is included in the way services are designed, commissioned, and delivered in a joined-up way. 

We do not provide pharmacy services ourselves but work with GPs, pharmacists, nurses and other healthcare professionals to improve medicines use to meet your needs.

Antibiotic use

Greener medicines

Improving access to medicines

Looking for medicines information

Overprescribing and medicines review

Patient resources

Antibiotics don’t work for everything

Resistance to antibiotics presents a very real and significant threat to modern healthcare. People can make a positive contribution to reducing antibiotic resistance in our community by becoming aware of resistance.

Antibiotics are no longer routinely used to treat infections because:

  • Many infections are caused by viruses, so antibiotics are not effective 

  • Antibiotics are often unlikely to speed up the healing process and can cause side effects

  • The more antibiotics are used to treat trivial conditions, the more likely they are to become ineffective for treating more serious conditions 

Both the NHS and health organisations across the world are trying to reduce the use of antibiotics, especially for health problems that are not serious. 

For example, antibiotics are no longer routinely used to treat:

Greener medicines

Climate change impacts everyone’s health and in particular patients with respiratory disease. Patients can work with clinicians to improve their respiratory symptoms and make treatments more environmentally friendly. If you are worried about your carbon footprint or how well your symptoms are being controlled, then read on and please talk to your surgery for options. 

The most important thing you can do for your health and the planet is to get your disease control is as good as it can be.  

Poorly controlled asthma or COPD creates its own carbon footprint and is bad for patients in the long run. Using any inhaler device in the right way is the best thing you can do to stay well and minimise the impact on the environment. Remember, “The greenist inhaler is the one you can use properly”.  

For example, in asthma  If you need to use your RELIEVER (“blue” inhaler or salbutamol) more than three times a week, this could be a sign that your asthma control is not well controlled. If this is happening, you should contact your surgery for an asthma review. Using your PREVENTER (“brown” inhaler or steroid) regularly even if you have no asthma symptoms can also help keep your asthma under control. Some patients are recommended Maintenance and Reliever Therapy (MART) for extra help with their symptoms and can be a great option for reducing your carbon footprint 

If any of the following apply to you then speak to your GP, respiratory nurse, pharmacist or respiratory specialist.

  • Are you repeatedly experiencing symptoms or needing to use your rescue medicines or blue inhaler too frequently? (e.g. more than twice a week) 

  • Are you using your preventer medication too irregularly? (i.e. not using them daily as prescribed) 

  • Are you struggling to use your inhaler device as you find the technique too difficult to manage?  

  • Have you had an asthma or COPD review in the last year? 

  • Do you need more than 3 to 6 blue inhalers in a year? (well controlled asthma patients shouldn’t need more than one blue inhaler per year in most cases) 

The NHS needs to do more to reduce its carbon footprint and prescribing medicines in the greenist way possible really can help. Many people are surprised to learn that many commonly used inhalers (called metered dose inhalers) contain powerful greenhouse gases which are needed as propellants to help deliver the medicine to your lungs. Greener alternative inhalers are available and can help to control your symptoms just as effectively AND reduce the carbon footprint of the NHS. These alternatives are called “dry powder inhalers” and have a much lower carbon footprint because they do not need propellants.  

Patients can check how green their prescribed inhalers are. Use the quick “green inhaler checklist” to help you to decide.

Are you prescribed a Metered Dose Inhaler? (pMDI) as eith a reliever or preventer, or both (see pictured below) Yes or no
Are you needing to use your blue inhaler (reliever) more than 3 times a week? Yes or no
Are you prescribed (or normally dispensed) a Ventolin Evohaler®? Yes or no
Are you prescribed a “Flutiform®?” pMDI or “Symbicort®?” as a pMDI? Yes or no
Are you prescribed a mixture of inhaler devices? (e.g. a dry powder inhaler and a pMDI) Yes or no
Do you struggle to use your inhaler device? Yes or no
Do you use your reliever medication repeatedly in a single day even though you do not feel breathless? (e.g. because that’s what the label instructs you to do) Yes or no
Do you worry you are throwing away inhalers too early or can’t tell when they are empty? Yes or no
Do you throw away your empty or unwanted inhalers in your domestic rubbish or recycling bins? Yes or no

If you have answer yes to one or more of these questions then please speak to your GP, respiratory nurse, pharmacist or respiratory specialist.  

For many patients, effective and more environmentally friendly alternatives are available. Many patients find them easier to use as they require less coordination to use than a pMDI device and they usually have dose-counter so you know how many doses are left so you can avoid accidentally using an empty device or throwing away a device with doses left to use.  

So, ask your clinician “Will a dry powder inhaler be suitable for me?”  

Do not feel guilty if your clinician advises you to continue using your Metered Dose Inhaler. Dry powder devices are not necessarily recommended for all patients and your clinician needs to sure that you can effectively breathe in strongly enough to activate the device (they require a hard, fast, deep breath to work properly) Most importantly! – DO NOT – stop using any of your prescribed medications including inhalers because you are worried about your carbon footprint 

There are other things you can do (especially if your still require a Metered Dose Inhaler).

  • Make sure you are using your inhaler correctly. Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to check your inhaler technique. Alternatively you should carefully read the leaflet or watch a training video to help you to improve your inhaler technique.

  • Make sure you are using your PREVENTER (“brown” or steroid inhaler) regularly and correctly. They are vital to prevent symptoms or prevent asthma from getting worse .

  • There still may be more environmentally friendly options available even if you must have a pMDI. For example, the most commonly used Ventolin Evohaler® can be changed for a smaller volume inhaler such as “Salamol” with the same medication and number of doses in (your GP practice may already be doing this – but if in doubt ask) 

  • You may be able to get the ‘strength or your device changed so you need to inhale fewer doses (e.g., “2 puffs twice daily” is a common dose for a preventer but if you have stable symptoms and well controlled disease changing to a stronger device but used less often as “1 puff twice daily” will mean fewer daily doses, a smaller carbon footprint and less waste

  • Keep closer track of how many doses are left in your inhaler if it lacks a dose-counter

Return it to your pharmacy after you’ve finished with it. Pharmacies dispose of medicines differently to your domestic or recycled rubbish. The harmful greenhouse gases will be thermally degraded into less environmentally damaging products. 

Can a greener inhaler help you fight climate change?

Looking for medicines information or advice?

Overprescribing and medicines review

Medicines do people a lot of good where they are effective. But medicines can also cause harm and can be wasted.  

Over the last 25 years overprescribing has become a serious problem in health systems internationally. 

The NHS has been investing in clinical pharmacists working alongside GPs to help review what matters most to you about your medicines and improve your treatment in a way that works for you. 

Structured medication reviews

Your GP surgery will be part of a primary care network. These networks will have a wide range of healthcare professionals available to help you. 

A structured medication review is a discussion about your medicines held with a healthcare professional who has been trained to provide this service, this may be a clinical pharmacist, your GP or a specially trained nurse. 

People who may benefit from a structured medication review of their medicines are invited to talk about this with their healthcare professional. You might be asked because you are taking several medicines or are taking medicines for long‑term conditions. The review can help to identify any medicines that are no longer needed or any that need the dose changed. The healthcare professional should listen to your views and take these into account. They should also think about risk factors you may have which could increase your chance of developing adverse drug reactions and if any specific monitoring is needed.  

Taking charge of your medicine with Mo

Mo's medicines: from hospital to home

Resources from Wessex Academic Health Network 

Patient resources