Repeat, repeat, repeat
So, you’re down to the last few tablets of your usual medicine and the weekend is looming. You might think that getting a repeat prescription should be as simple as a phone call to the practice, a receptionist hitting the ‘print’ key and a swing by the pharmacist, but medication, even if you take it regularly, is serious stuff, and there are checks and balances that need to be done.
Things can take time – and even more time when there are hundreds of patients in a practice clambering for repeats, all at the same time. It helps to plan ahead and give yourself – and your practice – plenty of notice when the course of your medication is almost up and there are no more repeats to collect from the pharmacy. Practices will routinely ask for at least 48 hours notice, before supplying repeat prescriptions, and for good reason.
Depending on circumstances, ‘ordering up’ a repeat over the phone or online, if that service is available, may not be an option at all. A doctor or nurse needs to review each prescription, even if it is one you have been taking for years. If it’s been a while since you were last in, they may well ask you to come in for a check and catch up before they’ll write you another. What might seem like routine medication to you, can be anything but in the eyes of a health care provider, who, perhaps, has seen things go wrong for long term users in the past. Some side effects can take years to show themselves.
People change, diseases and conditions change, and medications change, so they won’t want to leave it too long before seeing you, even if you are feeling and doing well. Some medications also require closer monitoring than others, as well as regular blood tests or other checks. Sometimes there are newer drugs, that can do the job better or more safely.
It’s all about keeping you as well as possible, watching for any risks or medication side effects, checking-in on the effectiveness of your medication, and ensuring you are still on the right type, dose and frequency. If you change practices, be sure to check the prescription policies of your new practice, how much notice they require for a repeat prescription, and how your new doctor or nurse might feel about issuing you prescriptions without seeing you, before they get to know you better.
When your GP Is closed:
It might be 10pm on a Friday, 7am Christmas morning or 6pm on Sunday night...
Whatever the time, if it’s outside of standard practice hours and you’re clean out of your essential regular medication, your options are going to be limited. You could visit an after hours GP clinic, if there’s one near you. They may be able to provide you with an emergency supply of your usual medication, but normally only in limited quantities, to tide you over until you can get to your regular practice. Luckily, there’s another option.
Under a statutory provision, pharmacists are able to dispense up to 72 hours’ worth of medication if you’re in need of an emergency supply. Any pharmacist can do this, but beware they’ll be very careful in issuing it to you.
They need to be confident you’re actually on this medication, and they won’t be prescribing any sleeping pills or controlled drugs like Ritalin. It will help if you can bring your empty packet, or past prescription, and some identification. The only downside of this, is that it’s a little more expensive than if you’d planned ahead and made time to see your GP. You’ll have to pay the actual cost of the drug (not the government-subsidised price as usual), as well as a fee for the pharmacist’s time.
Although it’s always better to think ahead with regards to your next repeat prescription, it’s also handy to know that you do have these last minute options available.