In an effort to make prescribing safer, less wasteful and more cost efficient, patients are being advised that the way in which they order repeat prescriptions is changing.
The move from South and South West Lincolnshire CCGs will mean that, with effect from 1 February 2018, patients who use a pharmacy to order repeat medicines on their behalf will instead be asked to order repeat prescriptions directly from their GP practice. Designated carers, relatives or friends can also order on the patient’s behalf.
Dr Dave Baker, GP and Acting Chair, South West Lincolnshire CCG, explains, “If you already order repeat prescriptions directly from your GP surgery, you will not be affected by this change and do not need to take any action. However, if your community pharmacy is currently ordering repeat medicines on your behalf, this will change.
“We know that some patients can build up excessive stocks of unused medicines, which have to be stored safely and used within their expiry date. In extremes some ended up with stocks of medicines that would have lasted months or even years. The new system will give greater control over repeat ordering and will enable your GP to keep a much closer eye on what medicines you actually use.”
Regular medicines usually need to be ordered each month, but medicines only taken as required may need to be ordered much less frequently than this. Where pharmacies order and dispense medication on behalf of a patient, the patient or carer does not always have the ability to notify their GP practice when medicines are not required or are no longer necessary.
“Patients should take their medicines as prescribed and talk to their GP or pharmacist if this creates any problem, such as side effects or confusion over dosage or frequency. However, we are asking people to only order medicine they actually need,” continues Dr Baker.
Pharmacies that collect prescriptions from GP surgeries on behalf of their patients will still be able to do so and home deliveries will also continue, if required. It is recommended that patients should not submit their next repeat prescription order to their surgery until they have seven days of medicines left. It takes a surgery two to three working days to issue a repeat prescription.
“I can assure patients that any items they do not order will not be removed from their prescription - unless they have a medicines review with their pharmacy or doctor,” adds Dr Baker. “If you need to ask your GP practice for a repeat prescription, you can do this in a number of ways including in person, online, via letter and, in some practices, over the phone in certain circumstances. Speak to your local surgery for further details on all of these possibilities.”
Community pharmacies provide a range of support services to help people to manage their medicines more effectively - the New Medicines Service provides support to those starting a new medicine for the first time. Also, the Medicines Use Review service gives people the opportunity to review their medicines with a qualified pharmacist in a private consultation. Ask at your community pharmacy for details.
Special arrangements are in place for vulnerable patients to continue to receive community pharmacy help with ordering of repeat medicines subject to approval by their GP surgery.
For more information about ordering your prescription online, speak to your local practice.