Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

17th August 2016

How do I dispose of returned medication?

Good afternoon. Could you please give me advise on disposing of returned medication ie. Do I need to bag it individually and return or can I return altogether many thanks

Dear Nicky,

The first thing I would like to tell you is that you must keep a record in the care home of all returned medicines and I would advise you to get the pharmacist to sign the record too.

You need to have a protocol in place about how the medicines will be disposed of by your service. This must be a protocol agreed with your pharmacist so that there can be no misunderstanding. I say this because the arrangements for the safe disposal of medications can vary from area to area and from pharmacy to pharmacy. These as you know are very important matters and the role of the pharmacist is the key to making sure that you are compliant.

You will of course need different paperwork and a different protocol for the safe disposal of Controlled Drugs.

If you are a subscriber to the QCS management system you will have protocols and policies that will be helpful.

I decided to take further advice from our pharmaceutical expert Hasnain Hassam, because I knew there were different arrangements for nursing homes and this is what he said:

  • Response to the question depends on the care setting? If it is a registered nursing home , then according to English law, waste medication cannot be returned to a 'pharmacy' for destruction. Instead medicines waste needs to be collected by a recognised waste contractor with a licence for such collections.
  • However if the care setting is residential (elderly/learning disabilities/mental health) then such waste can be returned to a 'pharmacy' for safe destruction.
  • The records for returned medication does not necessarily need to be signed by the pharmacist.. There is no such direction for this. However a member of the 'pharmacy team' should as good practice sign the homes' returns book to acknowledge receipt of waste medicines.
  • As for the question asked by your client, waste medicine can be sent all in one go and does not need to be 'bagged' individually.

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes,


*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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