Successful scheme to centralise repeat prescriptions in North Somerset shortlisted for national award

  • 03 March 2020


A pilot scheme by Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) to centralise repeat prescriptions across GP practices has saved the NHS more than £187,000 and been shortlisted for a national award.

The Centralised Repeat Prescription Hub was set up for 16 months to serve patients registered at the Tyntesfield Medical Group in North Somerset which comprises Tower House, Backwell, Brockway and Long Ashton practices.

The pilot saw all repeat prescriptions, sent from the four practices, electronically to a dedicated team of trained clerks at the hub, which was based at the Brockway practice. Prescriptions would usually be processed by individual practices.

Results showed that patient safety increased due to more vigilant checks and led to costs savings of £187,640 due to a reduction in over prescribing and medicine waste. The scheme also freed up time for GPs and other practice staff who reported saving on average an hour a day. The pilot was so successful it has been shortlisted for a national Pharmacy & Medicine Optimisation Award by the Health Services Journal (HSJ). BNSSG CCG is now recommending that the model is rolled out across the area.

Lisa Rees from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group Medicines Optimisation Team said: “The NHS spent an estimated £17.4 billion on medicines in 2016/17 and a key priority for the CCG is to make sure medicines are prescribed efficiently. The pilot was undertaken with the aim of reducing demands on GP workload and reducing unnecessary prescriptions items being issued which can lead to stockpiling and waste. The broader aim was to ensure good medicine optimisation, improve quality and safety and reduce drug spend.

“We’re delighted that the pilot was so successful and we would like to see this model rolled out across the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area. It is also very rewarding that the work has been recognised with an HSJ award shortlisting.”

During the pilot, which took place from September 2017 to October 2018, more than 7,700 prescriptions were rejected which was attributed to hub staff being more vigilant in analysing prescription requests. The rejection rate dropped after the pilot had ended suggesting patient behaviour change following advice on correct ways to order prescriptions.

GP teams were involved in the development of the hub and information was provided to patients and care home by pharmacies, posters and leaflets.

Benefits to GP practices included decreased prescribing workload which in part was due to the reduction in prescription over ordering and duplicated work. While GPs still checked the prescriptions, training for the clerks at the hub reduced some of the queries they needed to answer.