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Rising demand causes Well to close online prescriptions registrations

Well had to temporarily stop taking on new patients to “clear the backlog” that built up amid the COVID-19 outbreak, while other online pharmacies have also seen a surge in demand.

The “sudden surge” in demand for its online prescription service meant that Well had to temporarily stop taking on patients for the service, Gill Stone, regulatory and NHS standards lead for the multiple’s digital pharmacy arm, told C+D last month (April 24).

Well has also removed advertising for the online service from its bricks-and-mortar pharmacies and will be “opening up a waiting list for new patients to join the service”, Ms Stone said.

“Clearly, at this time, patients are seeing online services with home delivery as a solution to their lockdown concerns” she added.

Well is requesting that any isolating patient in need of medication first “ask a relative, friend, neighbour or local volunteer service – where possible – to collect their medication on their behalf”.

However, the multiple does “have the capacity to deliver to the shielded and vulnerable patients as identified by the government,” Ms Stone explained.

Echo: Moved to 24-hour operation

Echo – a repeat prescription app owned by Lloydspharmacy parent company McKesson – has also seen prescription nominations increase “significantly since the start of the coronavirus situation”, a McKesson spokesperson told C+D last month (April 24).

However, prescription turnaround times have “remained steady”, as the company has moved to “24 hours of operation, six days a week”, grown its fulfilment team by 50% and tripled its patient care team, they added.

Data from NHS Digital shows that Pharmacy2U, Echo, and Well’s online services currently have some of the highest numbers of patient nominations for prescriptions. 

Figures updated on May 1 reveal that Pharmacy2U topped the list of active nominations for England with 490,774 while Echo had 182,032 and Well 86,188.

Pharmacy2U: 10-day wait time

A COVID-19 statement on the Pharmacy2U website tells customers it “may take up to 10 days” for orders to be processed, due to the increased demand.

C+D contacted Pharmacy2U for comment, but it did not provide further detail than the information on its pandemic webpage.

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