GPs and pharmacists warn against over-ordering repeat prescriptions during coronavirus outbreak

  • 26 March 2020

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Pharmacists and GPs at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) are urging residents not to over-order repeat prescriptions during the coronavirus outbreak as doing so could put others at risk of not getting the medicines they need.

A huge spike in demand for repeat prescriptions since the outbreak is placing additional pressure on practices and pharmacies and threatens to disrupt the supply chain of medication if people order prescriptions too early and in too large quantities.

Medical Director at BNSSG CCG, Dr Martin Jones, said: “It’s vitally important that people continue to order their repeat prescriptions as normal in order to maintain the normal supply of medications through the system.

“Over-ordering prescriptions, or ordering medications you don’t need, is putting additional strain on our pharmacists, GPs and practice staff at a time when they are already working especially hard. Please continue to order prescriptions as normal at the time when you normally would.”

Those who need a repeat prescription can still order them in the normal way and are asked to do so no earlier than they would at any other time. Anyone who is self-isolating, or those who cannot get to a pharmacy, can arrange to have their prescription collected by a friend or relative. A delivery service will be available from pharmacies to help the most vulnerable in society, including ‘shielded’ patients who have serious underlying health conditions which puts them at very high risk of coronavirus.

Although most shops and service are now closed to support social distancing, pharmacies remain open, although many are limiting the number of people who can enter at one time so there may be a delay.

Pharmacist, Chris Howland-Harris from Ashgrove pharmacy in Horfield, Bristol said: “Everyone in community pharmacy is under pressure and working really hard to make medicines and prescriptions available, but the drug supplies can’t cope if we dispense extra prescriptions that are not yet needed. There’s no delay in getting prescriptions issued so there’s no need to order early. Please don’t give us the additional work of having to deal with stock shortages – let the drugs be available for the people who need them now.”

GP practices are also being encouraged to put as many suitable patients on to electronic repeat dispensing as soon as they can. This will speed up the process for repeat prescriptions to be authorised and will mean that a batch of prescriptions will wait at the pharmacy for people to collect when they need them.

Ways to order your prescription

Through the NHS App

The NHS App can be downloaded via Google Play or the App Store. You can use it to check your symptoms, get urgent advice, book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view your GP medical record. It’s free and owned by the NHS so you know your personal data is always secure. For more information go to: www.nhs.uk/nhsapp.

From your GP Practice

GP practices would prefer everyone to use online ordering methods to reduce face-to-face contacts and handling of paper prescriptions during the outbreak. See your practice website for information on how to do this.

If you don’t use online services, you may be able to request your prescription from your GP practice by email or over the phone so that you don’t need to take a paper request in to your GP practice or pharmacy. If none of these options are possible for you, then paper requests can still be used.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a continuous cough) please do not go into your surgery – instead call the practice or your pharmacy to arrange your prescription to be delivered or collected by a friend or relative.

From your pharmacy

Pharmacies would also like people to order online if possible. If you are not able to do this you can call or go in person but many pharmacies are currently limiting the number of people who can go in at any time so you may face a delay.

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