In response to the following article:
Dear PIP Editor,
I feel that patients being put at risk due to how repeat prescription services are being managed. I think the excessive accumulation of prescription medication is a common occurrence and I have seen this in practice.
On occasion, I had excess returned medication when we used to order peoples’ repeat prescriptions. This happened despite asking then every time what medicines they needed next time. We also would follow that up with:
“Are you sure you need x, y, z next time?”
For random creams, paracetamol other when required items we would also ask this question. Lots of people just want everything because they feel entitled or just too lazy to really check what they need.
I think the current supervision of the repeat supply of prescription medicines is not acceptable.
There is no easy answer to making sure this type of incident never happens again. I favour pharmacies not ordering prescriptions on behalf of patients. The area where I work now does not allow pharmacies to order on behalf of patients any more. This move has reduced the workload for us. I am sceptical whether it will help with the volume of prescriptions being ordered but at least the pharmacies will stop getting blamed for excesses.
As mentioned, we don’t order on behalf of patients anymore however, when we did we used to double-check ‘when required’ items. In most cases, patients filled in the repeat slip themselves. We just conveyed the information by hand or electronically to the GP and in all cases, the item is marked at the GP practice as being ‘due’.
I am concerned that patients are ordering and therefore creating the excesses because they cannot see the state of their medicine stash at home. There is often no way for the patient to know they don’t need it when they are saying they do during the conversation with the pharmacist.
The author of this letter is a community pharmacist who wishes to remain anonymous.