Changes to repeat prescription ordering

November 10, 2016

NHS North Kirklees and NHS Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Kirklees spend over £70 million on medicines each year. Most of these medicines are provided on prescription through GP practices.

Some people who need regular medication use a pharmacy or supplier of medical appliances to order medicines for them e.g. through the pharmacy’s ‘repeat prescription ordering service’, which can lead to over-ordering of medicines and mean that people have less control over the medication they want or need. It’s estimated that between 1 and 2% of the prescribing budget is wasted as a result of repeat prescriptions being ordered for items that are not needed.

From 1 April 2017, pharmacies and other suppliers will no longer be able to order repeat prescriptions for patients through their own ordering services. This approach is currently being phased in across Kirklees. Patients will need to order their repeat prescription directly from their GP practice by:

  • Online ordering through smartphone app or computer
  • Dropping their repeat prescription request off at the GP practice
  • Posting their repeat prescription request to their GP practice.

Telephone ordering may be possible for patients identified by their GP as being vulnerable.

Dr Steve Ollerton, local GP and Clinical Leader of NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG said: “These changes will mean that patients are in control of the ordering process and able to manage their own medication needs. Ordering of prescriptions by people other than patients or their carers can result in medicines being requested when they are not required, leading to waste.”

The changes also aim to reduce errors in the ordering and processing of repeat prescriptions by removing a number of steps where mistakes may happen.  For example, the names of some medicines can be difficult to remember, or pronounce, so errors can be made when they are requested over the phone.

Online ordering of prescriptions also reduces the administrative burden on GP practices and pharmacies. This will free up their time and allow them to focus on other healthcare tasks.

If patients already order repeat prescriptions directly from their GP surgery this change will not affect them. Pharmacies that collect prescriptions from GP surgeries and pharmacies that deliver medications and other items to patients will continue to do so.  Being able to order medicines through a pharmacy or supplier ordering service will still be possible for the most vulnerable patients e.g. those being supported by local authority carers and with little family support/involvement, and those lacking mental capacity.

As GP practices will not accept repeat requests from pharmacies or other suppliers patients will need to order their repeat prescriptions from their GP practice when they have 7 to 10 days of medicines left. Patients should contact their pharmacy to let them know they have ordered a prescription if they wish for them to collect this for them.  Remember – GP practices needs 2–3 working days to issue a prescription, so it is important to not leave it until the last minute. The pharmacy requires an additional 48 hours to dispense medicines.

Dr David Kelly, local GP and Chair of NHS North Kirklees CCG said: “The new system is also safer as your GP can monitor your prescription more easily and discuss the prescription items that you continue to need at your regular review. The money saved through reducing medicines waste will be used to fund prescribing of medicines to the population of Kirklees.  It is estimated that there will be a potential saving of between £600,000 and £1 million.”

To register for online services you will need to visit your GP practice.  Some surgeries require photo identification and proof of address so check with your GP practice.  Further information can also be found on the CCG websites / or the NHS Choices website (search for “GP online services).

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