People who are elderly, housebound or who have learning disabilities are most likely to be adversely affected by ‘draconian’ plans to stop pharmacists ordering repeat prescriptions on behalf of patients. That was the warning from Pharmacy Thames Valley, representing local pharmacists, after the Berkshire West federation of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – which plan and buy NHS services for our communities – said it wanted to stop pharmacy involvement in ordering repeat prescriptions, to cut down on ‘waste’ caused from order-ordered and unused medication.
But Pharmacy Thames Valley said ‘there may be a safeguarding risk to vulnerable patients who may not be able to manage with the changes to repeat prescriptions’, or who were not IT literate and able to order repeat prescriptions online. These patients would turn to GP surgeries or adult social care teams for help, placing extra burden on these already stretched services. The plans would ‘have the biggest impact on our most at-risk patients i.e. the elderly, housebound, those with learning disabilities and those who rely on their pharmacies to help them manage their medication’.
The proposals, first revealed at the beginning of April, could also mean pharmacies would have no advance warning of which medications to order in, meaning patients could be caught short while waiting for stock to come in. Pharmacy Thames Valley added: ‘Has the CCG factored in the number of emergency appointments that willbne needed for patients who have run out of their medication?’ There was also ‘no evidence…to show how the project savings will be made nor how these proposals were reached’.
The CCGs say up to £1.8m a year could be saved across Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire. As well as repeat prescribing changes, the CCGs want to ban GPs from prescribing over-the-counter medications such as cold remedies, gluten-free food, camouflage preparations for skin conditions, and travel vaccines.
A public consultation on the plans ended April 28 2017. Healthwatch Reading will report on the final decision when it has been made.