We have had many queries from patients regarding Repeat Prescriptions. Please find below communication from Paula Wilkinson chief pharmacist at the CCG to the councillors of Kelvedon and Feering.
Mid Essex CCG is supporting the NHS Digital strategy and encouraging use of electronic ordering by patients themselves whenever possible. Therefore the CCG is not supporting ordering by community pharmacies using paper repeat prescription scripts, which then have to be delivered to GP surgeries for processing. Paper based repeat prescription ordering through community pharmacies not only causes additional work for community pharmacies to deliver the paper repeat prescription slips to the GP surgery, but also causes additional work within the GP practice in processing paper requests. Now that GPs are required by regulations to send all prescriptions electronically to community pharmacies for dispensing, community pharmacies no longer go to GP surgeries to collect paper prescriptions for dispensing. Aside from the additional time receiving paper repeat requests, it also takes longer for GP staff to process paper repeat requests than electronic requests which go directly into GP clinical systems and do not need manually inputting- and hence is safer too. Using electronic ordering also means that patients can order in a more timely manner, since using paper based systems via community pharmacies usually means a patient ordering one or two months in advance of when they need them- as they are asked to order the next supply when they pick up their dispensed prescriptions.
It is for this reason, and with the support of GPs, that the CCG agreed GP practices should stop accepting repeat prescription requests from community pharmacies- whether paper or electronic via pharmacy owned apps. Community pharmacists are asked to encourage patient to order their repeat prescriptions electronically using the NHS app or GP on-line service. Pre-COVID the CCG engaged in a publicity campaign encouraging patients to use the NHS App. The app is directly linked into GP clinical systems and also allows patients to book or cancel GP appointments on-line and, if set up, to view their medical records. In other areas of the CCG, volunteers have been supporting patients to download the NHS Apps onto their phones and use that to order their repeat medication. Although many older people do not have computers many do have a mobile phone and, once set up on the App, it is easy for them to order their own medicines electronically. In the recent Residents newsletter ‘Engage’ https://midessexccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/engage
As part of the response to COVID there is national encouragement for GPs to set up patients on the electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) system—which means that for those patients with stable medication a set of up to 12 months of prescriptions can be set up, which sit on the electronic EPS spine and are automatically sent to the patient’s nominated pharmacy for dispensing and avoiding the need for patients to order each time. We have been in contact with the surgery and with Boots in Kelvedon and they have already started working together to identify patients who are suitable for eRDs, and over the course of the next few weeks they will be setting up as many suitable patients as possible on this system. Patients who are on the same regular repeat medication can also request eRDs from their GP surgery.
We recognise that not all patients are able to order their medicines electronically or suitable for setting up on eRDs, and in which case patients can still use a paper repeat slip and post or delivery it themselves to the GP surgery. Some practices have a dedicated phone line for patients to telephone their repeat requests, but this is usually only available for vulnerable patients with prior agreement of the surgery. Such patients should contact the surgery directly themselves to set up any special arrangements. However it is anticipated that there will only be a small number of people where this applies. https://midessexccg.nhs.uk/livewell/your-medicines-your-nhs/reducing-medicines-waste/increasing-erds-and-stopping-managed-repeats
This programme of stopping community pharmacies ordering medication on behalf of patients commenced before Christmas and practices were asked to implement this by end of March 2020. During the pandemic new practices did not commence this programme, but as we are coming out of pandemic practices are resetting. Practices who have implemented this policy of not accepting third party orders have found that this improves the overall system greatly and reduces work for GPs and pharmacies by improving efficiency of the re-ordering process and once set up electronically patients really like the system—no more lost scripts, time spent chasing paper around the system etc. The decision to start this from 1st July was one made by the practice but we are supporting the change in line with the overall plan.
In respect of patients who are worried/concerned please encourage them to speak directly with the practice/community pharmacy to ensure that arrangements are put in place for them to continue to obtain their medication in a timely manner.
Paula Wilkinson FRPharmS
Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group