How to get a repeat prescription
Pharmacy insights

How to get a repeat prescription?

How to get a repeat prescription? There is a number of ways of ordering repeat NHS prescriptions. I this post I will summarise different ways of ordering your NHS repeatable prescription. Repeatable prescriptions have normally limit on a number of issues over a certain amount of time, following which patients are normally due to have a medication review with their doctor.

How to get a repeat prescription? Important notes.

Regardless of how repeatable prescription is ordered, few important rules apply to the whole process:

  • Issuing of future repeatable prescriptions is not an instantaneous process
  • Patients need to request their medication before they run out of current medication. Ordering of your medication 7 days before you run out of your current stock is a reasonable amount of time. This will allow a GP surgery to issue your prescription and pharmacy to process it.
  • GP surgery can issue a paper prescription (available for collection from the surgery), however Electronic prescription service (EPS) is becoming a preferred method of prescription transfer. EPS prescriptions can be sent electronically to the pharmacy of your choice. This means patients do not have to go back to surgery to collect a paper copy of their prescription.
  • Soon EPS will become a default method of prescription issuing and transfer.

6 easy methods of getting a repeatable prescription

  1. Ordering of repeatable prescription/medication with repeat prescription slip

When a medication is repeatable, a paper prescription or printed EPS token has an additional repeat page /slip attached to the main prescription, which lists a patient’s repeatable medication. This part can be used by patients to order their medications. If no medication is listed, most likely patient does not have a repeatable medication. This happens very often if a new medication is issued where a review needs to follow after the initial consultation with a GP.

Simply tick the box next to the medication required and drop the slip off in the surgery a few days before your next medication is due. Repeat slip should list local pharmacies you may wish the prescription to be sent to electronically.

Some pharmacies may offer to take repeat part from patients and drop it off for them, but this will depend on the area in which you live.

  1. Ordering of repeatable prescription with GP online services

Repeat prescriptions can be ordered online via GP online services (website or app). It is a free service provided by most GP surgeries. Patients need to request access to this service from the surgery (ID and proof of address are needed). Each practice may use a different system (and/or app) for the ordering of repeatable medication. Patients need to speak to the surgery to find out which system is used by the practice.

Once access is given patients simply need to login to the website and order their medication. Patients can make comments, for example, to choose a preferred pharmacy to dispense their medication (if this has not been set up yet).

  1. Ordering of repeatable medication by a pharmacy

Many pharmacies offer repeat prescription service. This normally means that the pharmacy retains the patient’s repeat slip and request medication from the surgery every month on the patient’s behalf. Every month when patients collect medication fro the pharmacy they are asked what medication is needed for next time.

Many GP practices prevent pharmacies from ordering their medication, so you may not be able to use this method of ordering your repeatable medication.

Although many patients like this method of the ordering of repeatable drugs,  in practice this is probably the least reliable method of medication ordering as a number of problems may occur, for example, repeat slips may not be ordered on time, it may be lost.

  1. Use of apps to get a repeatable prescription/medication

There are few iPhone and Android apps available for the management of repeatable prescriptions. These normally allow you to order and track your NHS prescription repeats. You will be able to choose a dispensing pharmacy when a repeat request is made. Some additional features may include daily reminders to take your medication or reminders to order your prescription.

Once registration is completed a drug history is automatically transferred into the app from the NHS. Patients can select a preferred pharmacy to which they want their prescriptions to be sent to.

Search App store or Android market for ‘NHS prescriptions’. Please note that many online pharmacies offered similar services via their app, however, this means that your medication will be posted to you.

Some popular app for management of NHS repeatable prescriptions include:

  • NHS App
    • Currently being rolled out, not all patients may use this app to order your repeatable medication
  • Healthera NHS Prescription App
  • myGP App
  1. Use of online pharmacies to get repeatable prescriptions

Large multiple pharmacies such as Boots or Lloyds or Well Pharmacy offer repeat prescription service via their website (and apps) for patients to manage their repeats. Smaller (local) pharmacies may offer a similar service. Website features differ between each pharmacy. Patients may get email reminders to order their medication and may have options of free delivery of their mediation (in the post) or collection from a local pharmacy. The biggest pharmacy that operates in the UK is called Pharmacy2u. This pharmacy only operates as a distance pharmacy (an online pharmacy). List of pharmacies that provide online repeatable prescription services:

  1. Ordering of prescriptions over the phone

GP practices do not normally take orders of medications over the phone unless in exceptional circumstances. Check with your GP if the ordering of repeat medications is possible over the phone.

How to get a repeat prescription: FAQ

Can I ring 111 for a prescription?

NHS 111 service can only be used to get a referral for emergency prescriptions for example when GP is closed and a repeatable medication is urgently needed. NHS 111 should not be used to order a patient's medication in any other circumstances.

Can you pick up repeat prescription early?

A repeat prescription can be picked up early, but this depends on the nature of the drug, for example for a controlled drug a prescriber may set a specific date for prescription collection. For regular drugs, patients may collect their medication as soon as the prescriber issue a prescription. Patients are usually allowed to order their medication around 7 days before their medication is due.

How long does it take for a repeat prescription to be ready?

It may take from 1-3 days for the surgery to issue a repeatable prescription, once a request is made by a patient. Pharmacies usually need additional 1-3 days to dispense the patient's medication. It is recommended to order a repeatable medication 7 days before the next prescription is due.

I am a community pharmacist working in UK. I blog about drugs, health and pharmacy.

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