Three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the north west of England and East Anglia have implemented schemes to stop pharmacies from reordering prescriptions, to save around £10 million a year in wasted medicines.
Local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) chair Graeme Batten told C+D last week (August 12) that he had “real concerns” about whether the scheme would address medicines waste, and warned it would have a large impact on pharmacies and patients in the area.
In Merseyside, NHS Southport and Formby CCG, and NHS South Sefton CCG, are piloting the new system. They estimate it will save the local NHS £2m a year in “wasted medicines”, and will “improve the safety of repeat prescriptions”.
From September 1, patients at 19 Sefton GP surgeries will not be able to order repeat prescriptions from their pharmacy, and will have to order their own repeat prescriptions directly from the practice. The CCGs say that “special arrangements” will be in place for vulnerable patients who require blister packs.
The new system will affect over 47,000 patients, and all of the 76 pharmacies in the Sefton area – and will mean that pharmacists will be forced to collect repeat prescriptions from surgeries themselves, on behalf of their patients.
"Inconvenient for some"
Susanne Lynch, head of medicines management at both CCGs, admitted the new system “may be inconvenient for some”. But she stressed “it does address some very real medicines safety issues as well as safeguarding precious NHS funds”.
Mr Batten, Sefton LPC chair and a pharmacist at the Crescent Pharmacy in Thornton, Merseyside, told C+D that pharmacists had been given little notice that the scheme was being implemented, “causing a lot of angst” for local contractors.
“The party line is that the pilot will cut down on waste and encourage GPs to do medicines reviews, and reduce the workload of pharmacies. But the impact on contractors is going to be quite great," Mr Batten told C+D on Friday (August 12).
“We support the principle of waste reduction and we want to work with [the CCG]. It would have been nice to have had some consultation [in order to] to get it to work well from the beginning."
Mr Batten said that with "a little more time" some of the logistics could be resolved. "But it’s going to be difficult getting it off the ground. I have real concerns that patients will be affected,” he added.