Health professionals are reminding patients to pick up their repeat prescriptions well before GP practices and pharmacies close for the Easter banks holidays.
Each Easter 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.
Easter Friday is on 30 March and Easter Monday is on 2 April, which is when GP practices will be closed.
Every practice handles repeat prescriptions differently, so if patients are unsure of their deadlines they should speak to practice staff early to find out about the process.
Take all reasonable steps to ensure you have adequate supplies
Dr John Whitehead, NHS clinical commissioning group lead for urgent care, said: “When GP practices close for the holidays, the out-of-hours GPs are already working 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 helpline 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.”
For people going away during the Easter break, it is particularly important to make sure they have enough medication and to take it all with them.
It is also a good idea to take details of repeat medication away, such as the re-order list that comes with each prescription.
Most people remember to order and collect their prescriptions well in advance of Easter
Dr Whitehead added: “Most people remember to order and collect their prescriptions well in advance of Easter, 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 GP practices and pharmacies close for the holidays.
“So our advice is very simple. Check that you have sufficient medication before Easter. 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 Easter period.”