Dispensing Arrangements

Now we have moved into our new, improved and larger Health Centre, we are having to revise the way we work. One of the areas that is proving difficult for us is the ordering and collection of routine, repeat prescriptions. Many of you will already know that there is now a designated dispensary with "patient" hatch opening onto the waiting room. We are unable to man this at all times and yet dispensed prescriptions need to be kept there for security. Whilst we are happy to unlock and hand out prescriptions at any time during our normal opening hours there are times when this will take our staff away from other work, such as manning reception and the telephone. Therefore calling for prescriptions at some times may involve a considerable wait until the staff member is free. It would be helpful for us all if routine, repeat prescriptions could be collected during the hours when we have more staff available to man the dispensary: Monday Friday 09.00 12.00 14.00 17.00

During this review of dispensary arrangements and our discussions with the Health Authority, it has become clear that we need to review the way repeat prescriptions are ordered. At present telephone or verbal requests to non-pharmacy trained staff is accepted here as the norm; but is a recipe for error. It has long been Health Authority advice that repeat prescriptions requests should only be made using the prescription counterfoils on which the required items are clearly marked by the patient. It is our intention to make a change to this safer procedure over the next few weeks.

Since our move there have been a number of requests for the "same day" dispensing of routine, repeat prescriptions. We would like to take this opportunity to remind patients that we do not offer this service (being an unsafe practice, putting our dispenser under considerable pressure and in any case not always being possible to achieve). The prescription counterfoil requests two working days notice in order to process the prescription. As our dispenser has only ever worked on weekday mornings this means that a routine, repeat prescription requested on Friday afternoon should not be expected before Tuesday afternoon of the following week. In addition special items we do not carry as stock will be subject to additional "delays" of ordering and dispatch from mainland suppliers. We have clearly often turned round prescription requests faster than this but it should not be routinely expected.

Prescription Charges
Under new legislation we are now obliged to obtain the patients (or their representatives) signature on the reverse of the prescription. This is particularly important where the patient is claiming exemption from charges. We are now also obliged to ask to see evidence for exemption before handing over the dispensed prescription and to indicate on the reverse when this evidence is not produced. We are aware that some chemists have to charge the prescription fee regardless of exemption if proof of such exemption is not produced. It is therefore important to be prepared with either the prescription fee or evidence of exemption when collecting a prescription. It is now essential that all non-exempt patients should pay for their prescriptions, currently £5.90 per item.

In Summary
Please make repeat prescription requests using the prescription counterfoils, either handed to the receptionist or posted to the Health Centre, allowing at least two working days from receipt. Try to arrange collection if possible during the hours suggested above. The receptionist will advise you if someone is manning the dispensary on arrival. The hatch may be closed allowing the dispenser to dispense the drugs uninterrupted and so you may have to knock and wait a short while. Be prepared to pay the prescription charges or show evidence of exemption and also to sign the reverse of the prescription.
Thank you for your co-operation.

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