14 December 2018
With Christmas fast approaching, health professionals are reminding patients to pick up their repeat prescriptions well before the holiday period.
Each Christmas sees many patients calling the NHS 111 helpline because they have run out of medication, leading to unnecessary worry for themselves and increasing pressure on busy urgent care and out-of-hours NHS services.
Every practice handles repeat prescriptions differently, so if you are unsure speak to your GP practice early to find out what their process is. You can also speak to your local pharmacy if you aren’t sure how to get a prescription over the holiday period.
Dr John Whitehead, Devon GP, said: “During the Christmas holidays, the out-of-hours GPs work flat out to see patients with urgent health issues, so we really don’t want them using their precious time writing repeat prescriptions for patients who could have ordered their medicine before the holidays.
“The free NHS 111 telephone number can facilitate the supply of urgent repeat prescriptions for patients with a genuine immediate need – but it’s important to remember that, with the expected high workload during this holiday period, patients should take all reasonable steps to ensure they have adequate supplies.
“Please check that you have enough of your prescription medication to get you through the holidays. That way we can save the slots with the out-of-hours GPs for those people with urgent healthcare issues. And if you do run out, contact your local pharmacy if your GP practice is closed.”
New for this year, patients can now access 111 online (www.111.nhs.uk) to get medical help or advice using a smartphone, laptop or other digital device.
Patients can use the new 111 online service to get answers about their symptoms, find out where to get the right healthcare in their local area, get advice on self-care and access further advice from a nurse or doctor on the phone, if necessary.
For people going away from home during the festivities, it is particularly important to make sure you have enough medication to take with you.
It is also a good idea to take details of repeat medication with you, such as the re-order list that comes with each prescription.
Pharmacist Mark Stone said: “Many people need repeat medication to manage long-term conditions and most remember to order and collect their prescriptions well in advance of Christmas, which is very helpful and appreciated.
“However, in the busy run-up to the holidays it’s easy to forget to pick up a repeat prescription and this can lead to problems once many GP practices and pharmacies close for the holidays.
“So our advice is very simple. Check that you have sufficient medication for Christmas and the New Year. If you don’t, save yourself the worry and re-order your prescription now while there’s time for it be processed and dispensed.
“Not only will you be doing yourself a favour, you’ll also be helping the NHS by reducing pressure on busy urgent care services over the Christmas period.”