Mar 302017

Due to the increasing volume of prescriptions that the practice handles we can no longer guarantee to turn prescription requests around within a working day – it will now take two working days which is the NHS Scotland target for general practice.

The same turnaround time applies to hospital recommendations and hospital doctors are aware of this timeframe. Should the hospitals wish a prescription to be started immediately after an appointment the NHS Lothian policy is that they will arrange for this to happen at the time of your appointment through the hospital pharmacy.

The practice has also been aware of experiencing an increasing volume of requests from patients for routine medication prescriptions to be turned round within a matter of hours. Only very rarely will missing a day or two of medication have any impact on someone’s health. Where this is not the case the practice will no longer be expediting these requests.

The reason for this is that an adequate window of time is essential for your usual GP to make sure that any prescriptions which are not authorised on the system are handled in a safe and efficient manner. This has always been important – it is becoming even more important and time-consuming as we now have more medications to treat more conditions. This results in:

  • More potentially dangerous drug interactions and more opportunity for a medication to interact with an individual’s other health problems. Repeated studies have found that between 5-10% of hospital admissions are related to medication problems, and that the majority of these are preventable.

  • More demands on scarce NHS resources. Medication costs in Scotland are constantly increasing. At present the annual cost is just under £1.6 billion, which is approximately 13% of the total NHS Scotland budget. Sometimes the costs of nearly identical drugs can vary by a factor of 100. It is therefore essential that as a practice we prescribe efficiently as well as safely and effectively.

Please remember that pharmacies within the UK can normally sort out a short-term supply of medication in the event of you realising you have run out at the weekend or while travelling in the UK. With the occasional exception there is normally no need to have an emergency appointment with a GP if it is a medication that is been used on an ongoing basis.