PATIENTS are wasting an estimated £2 billion worth of GP's drugs budgets by failing to use prescriptions properly, a survey of doctors said today.
Two fifths (40%) of patients are squandering prescribed medicine, according to 1,000 GPs questioned for the Norwich Union Healthcare survey.
Young people aged 13 to 29 are the biggest culprits, just ahead of the elderly, according to the Health of the Nation report.
A quarter of GPs (25%) said non-compliance to treatment was most likely when patients believe they are better before finishing a prescription.
But almost two-thirds of the GPs (61%) said this contributed to a patient's long-term sickness and 62% said it increased the burden on the NHS.
The report also found that 65% of GPs are concerned that they lack time to give patients the care they need.
Doctors estimated that over a third (36%) of patients now self-diagnose ahead of appointments, with 77% agreeing that online surgeries could undermine the traditional doctor-patient relationship.
Almost nine out of ten GPs (88%) said better patient education was needed to deal with the crisis, with 82% suggesting that prescriptions are recycled to lower the burden on the NHS.