Prescribing Review

We are undertaking a major review of our prescription process. Safety is our top priority. From 1st of January 2014, we are training up specialist prescribing clerks, we will require 48 hours notice to process prescription requests and the prescription phone line will be open between 11am and 2pm. The prescription phone number will be 460 2404

BACKGROUND

Throughout history, plant extracts have been made into drugs, potions and poultices to treat anything and everything. Many of these remedies were useless or even harmful, but some of them we still use: Digoxin from foxgloves, morphine from opium poppies, aspirin from willow bark, captopril from snake venom, penicillin from mould, contraceptives from horse wee…the list is almost endless.

There is no doubt that throughout the world countless lives are saved or improved through the use of the medicines we prescribe. However, there is always the risk that they can cause harm: side effects, allergies, taken incorrectly, interactions with other medication.

WHAT STEPS ARE TAKEN TO AVOID MISTAKES?

Whenever we start medication, we have to weigh up the balance between the potential benefits and the risk of problems. We have a pharmacist on site each week to advise us on medication matters and have computer programs that warn us about potential problems.

There are things you can do to reduce the risk of problems with medication. Getting to know what your medication is and why you are taking it is the most important. When new medication is started, check with your doctor whether it will be OK to take with other medication or will affect any other conditions you might have. Ask about side effects and when you might expect to see a benefit.

If you receive regular medication and there is one that you don’t recognise, again, ask. Check with your pharmacist first - most likely it will be due to a change in packaging or the medicine has been bought from a different manufacturer. If you are still unsure, check with us.

We are going to train up some of our receptionists to become specialist prescribing clerks, who will have more knowledge and experience in dealing with prescriptions. We are going to give them a quiet room with a dedicated telephone so that they are less distracted with other tasks when they are dealing with phoned prescription requests.

WHY THE REVIEW NOW?

As GPs we are doing more work than we have ever done. The number of conditions we can treat in General Practice is increasing, the number of medications people are on is growing and more & more hospital specialists are asking us to start your medication. This means it is getting harder and taking longer to check your prescription before it is issued. It is important that these checks are not rushed.

WHAT WILL BE THE BENEFITS FOR PATIENTS?

Initially it seems like a backwards step to reduce the time that the prescription ordering line will be available and to increase the picking up time to 2 working days.

The main benefit is safety:

  • We want to encourage people to use our online ordering service or the right hand side of the prescription to order their prescriptions. Since the drugs are all listed, ticking the box next to the medication you need means that there is no risk of misreading hand written notes or mishearing what someone has said.
  • a quiet room with a dedicated telephone with a prescription clerk, means you have their full attention
  • The increased time between ordering and collection will give us time to check those prescriptions with queries. For example, if a medication review is overdue, we can check whether blood tests are needed prior to seeing a doctor.

To help reduce the actual effect on patients, we are trying to make the system more efficient elsewhere.

Tell us who your pharmacist is and in most cases we can have the script delivered ready for you to collect (we are looking at doing this electronically in the near future). Our online prescription service is also very easy to use.