Change to the way repeat prescriptions are ordered set to improve safety and reduce waste

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ABID 8973 Repeat Prescriptions Screensaver v3 003A change announced by West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) recently means that people in West Leicestershire will need to order their repeat prescriptions through their GP practice, and not through pharmacies as they might previously have done.

From 30th June 2019, GP practices in West Leicestershire will no longer accept repeat prescriptions from pharmacies or appliance contractors. The change will apply to people in Charnwood (north and south), Loughborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Coalville, and Ashby.

Although the change will apply to the vast majority of people, support is available for any patients or carers that may have difficulties with the change.

For most people, being in charge of ordering their own repeat prescriptions ensures they only get the medicine they need at the time they need it. This can help prevent the build-up of unused or old medicines at home which improves safety and saves medicines waste and valuable NHS resources.

Estimates suggest that unused or partially used medication costs the NHS £300million each year, a figure which could pay for over 11,000 more community nurses or nearly 20,000 more drug treatment courses for breast cancer. In West Leicestershire medicines waste is estimated to cost the NHS at least £1 million each year.

Following public consultation in 2018, West Leicestershire CCG have announced this change to the way repeat prescriptions are ordered to help tackle this problem, and to empower people to take control of their own medicines management.

Patient Online prescriptionsThere are two routes people can choose to order their repeat prescriptions through their GP practice: online (via websites or apps) and a paper form.

The online route – through the NHS GP online service – is quick and easy to set up and enables patients to book GP appointments and view some of their medical records, as well as manage their prescriptions. People simply need to speak to staff at their GP practice, who will talk them through the process. Once set up to access GP services online, people can download a number of NHS-approved apps so they can order repeat prescriptions from their mobile phones.

Research carried out by NHS England reveals that 85% of people who use the service say that ordering prescriptions online is straightforward. This figure rises to 90% of people with a long-term condition.

Dr James Ogle, a GP at Ratby Surgery and Prescribing Clinical Lead at West Leicestershire CCG, said: ‘The NHS in West Leicestershire has a responsibility to its patients to address some very important medicines safety issues. We are moving away from pharmacists ordering repeat prescriptions on behalf of patients, to ensure that medicines are not being ordered that are no longer required.

“This change is all about giving people the confidence to take control of how they take and order their medicines, and to only order what they need. Ultimately, we want everyone in West Leicestershire - residents, GPs and pharmacists – to work together to collectively tackle this issue of medicines waste”.

Sue Hind, a pharmacist and Chief Officer at the Leicestershire and Rutland Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) said: “In most cases, it is the individual who is best placed to make decisions about their own health and to decide which repeat medicines they need. This helps prevent stockpiling of medicines, particularly those medicines taken on a ‘when required’ basis such as some pain killers.  

“The LPC have also funded and launched a campaign to support patient education and awareness to prevent over-ordering of medicines and encourage patients to order only what is needed. If patients have any medicines related concerns they can speak to their pharmacist who will be able to help or signpost them to access the correct information”.

To help improve the ordering of repeat prescriptions, the CCG have contacted all affected GP practices and pharmacies to make them aware of the benefits of giving patients the responsibility to manage their own medicines where they are able to do so. Leaflets and posters have been distributed and are available for patients to take away from their GP practice.

Further details of the change can be found on our Prescribing webpage.

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