Medicines management

What advice can I give to patients about taking their medicines at festivals?

The festival season is upon us, and all over the UK people are preparing their camping equipment, dusting off their wellies, and downloading their tickets. But one thing people have not necessarily thought about or prepared for is their medicines.

People attending festivals this summer need to consider any prescription medicines they are taking, ensuring that they have enough supplies and that the medicines can be stored appropriately (some degrade if stored inappropriately).

Some medical services at festivals will store medicines that require refrigeration, but patients should be advised to check with the festival organisers beforehand whether or not this will be possible. Medicines should also be stored in a sealed bag or container labelled with the patient’s name and contact details, with no uncovered or used sharps, such as needles.

Over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen, are available at some festivals, and even prescription-only medicines can be found at some of the larger events.

Glastonbury and Reading festivals, among others, use a charity called Festival Medical Services. Run by volunteers, a comprehensive range of healthcare practitioners is available, including doctors, nurses, dentists, radiographers, ophthalmologists, psychiatric nurses, physiotherapists and midwives. They can prescribe the usual medicines within their specialty, but private prescription costs may apply.

Smaller festivals will not have the luxury of a large field hospital, but they all provide first aid services. They should also be able to direct people to the local GP and out of hours services, where people can be seen as temporary residents.

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