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Issue 329 – Patients angry over new repeat prescriptions policy

LOCAL pharmacies are now limiting prescriptions to 28 days of medication and are no longer issuing 56 day supplies. Patients are angry that they will now have to make more visits, paying more in prescription fees and travel, to collect their usual amount of medication. They are also angry that they have received no notification of the changes.

The Patients Association states, “Along with the recent rise in prescription charges in England of 20p, this is a stealth tax on the sick, this means many patients who have long-term conditions and need multiple prescriptions, will have to pay more money and also pay more often for the vital medicines they need.
“Patients who are particularly frail are going to have the burden and inconvenience of going to their pharmacists more often to have their prescriptions filled. Not only does this issue effect patients but GPs will have to spend more time writing prescriptions.”
When Frome resident Jerry Cripps went to pick up his repeat prescription, he was shocked to find half the amount he would normally receive, with no prior notification.
He said, “I went in and they told me I would need to write a letter to the practice and they would take it up with the Primary Care Trust who made the decision.”
A spokesperson from NHS Somerset said, “I can confirm that all the county’s 76 medical practices, has been moving to reduce the maximum 56 day prescribing period to 28 days.
“This move is in line with long standing national policy objectives to both reduce the quantity of wasted prescription medicines (the cost of wasted medicines to the NHS in England is over £300million each year. In Somerset, wasted prescription medicines amounts to over £2million a year) and implement best clinical practice.
“Patients, particularly those with long term ill health, may be on a wide range of prescription medicines. Their health can easily deteriorate very quickly. Review of their medicines and dosages can play an important part of maintaining their health and reducing the number of preventable admissions to hospital.
“Some 25% of the prescribing in Somerset is from dispensing practices which have historically always prescribed 28 day cycles for their patients, resulting in some of the lowest levels of prescribing waste.
“NHS Somerset sent a letter to at GP practices in January 2011 explaining the importance of reducing the maximum prescription period and advising that they inform their patients of this change.
“GP Practices in Somerset have subsequently written to their patients advising them of the maximum prescribing period and this has been implemented in a phased way.
“Where the GP/patient has concerns about reducing the maximum prescribing period, the GP is able to use their discretion or seek advice from the Primary Care Trust’s Medicines Management Support Team.
“Should a patient be concerned about the shortened duration of their repeat prescription, they can contact NHS Somerset’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) – Tel: 0800 0851 067 – where they can discuss their concerns in more detail.”

• What are your thoughts about the change in prescriptions? How are you being affected? Let Frome Times know;

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