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Pharmacy dispensing tokens sent to hotels in fax machine error

NHS England reminded pharmacies to only use fax when no other communication is available
NHS England reminded pharmacies to only use fax when no other communication is available

Pharmacy teams have been told to double check their fax numbers after a hotel group received a number of dispensing tokens and medicine requests by mistake.

The hotel group – the name of which NHS England’s corporate information governance team did not share with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) – received a number of faxes from community pharmacies and GP practices across the country over the past weeks, containing dispensing tokens, certificates and medicines requests, the negotiator said on Monday (February 4).

“It is likely that the fax numbers in question are very similar to a fax number being used within the healthcare system,” PSNC said.

It stressed that pharmacy teams should check they are not using the following numbers:

  • 08444 119 012
  • 01564 793 558

NHS England reminded pharmacies to “only use fax when no other communication is available”, to confirm details with the recipient before sending sensitive information and to confirm with the recipient once it has been delivered.

PSNC added that any changes in a pharmacy’s contact details must be shared with relevant healthcare contacts to ensure information is not sent to out-of-date or out-of-service numbers.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – which came into force last year – breaches of certain types of data have to be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

In December, health secretary Matt Hancock ordered the NHS to ban all fax machines by 2020, and told C+D that he expects primary care – including community pharmacies – to follow suit.

19 Comments
Question: 
How often do you use a fax machine in your pharmacy?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

A well implemented eRD system, or Repeat Dispensing - whichever term you like to use negates the need for a fax machine.

As it very correctly said, the reason for an urgent Px is almost always because the patient hasn't ordered in a timely manner, or a request hasn't been processed timely.

We seem to like a convoluting process in a pharmacy when really we definitely need to start looking at how can we make this simpler.

Margaret O'doherty, Community pharmacist

What is a hotel doing with a fax machine? I thought they weren’t used outside of healthcare any more.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""" 99.999% practices out there don't take request over the phone anymore."""

And 100% of the practices always ask for fax request (for something they have erred by not doing it in the first plac,e when a physical repeat request was sent (but of course lost at their end)) and NOT EMAIL !!! So, unless the originator changes the style of communication others dependent will not change !! Get it ??

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

I am afraid you just have to play by the rules set by the surgeries and you don't really have a say in it. 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Exactly my point my friend.

So please, could you take back your earlier comment --

"The main issue lies within community pharmacies many of which 1) have no scanner in place to scan script requests to a workstation then send them through nhs email; 2) are not using nhs email for communication on regular basis anyway and 3) don't even have a nhs email account in the first place! ""

Oh sorry I forgot, you work with one of those GP practices, who play by their rules, so never mind. Apology accepted.

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

Funny logic. This is simply the fact whether you like it or not, and it's also the fact that as community pharmacists you don't have much say about the surgery's ordering policy.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

there are two things i use a fax machine for, receiving faxed scripts from the surgery cos they arent well enough organised to change them to etp and forgot to do them early enough, and to send "proof" of a script to some profiteering wholesaler who is restricting supply to maintain prices. if I do the latter, I anonymise it thoroughly... sounds to me like its surgeries and patients who will suffer first, obviously not your first concern over your workload...

Graham Turner, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Faxes should have no place in a modern pharmacy, it only takes one wrong number and a persons confidential data could easilly end up in the public domain.

But then again, let's get real here, there are still many pharmacies in the UK where the main computer is using a comically outdated operating system, staffed by people wh don't know how to send an email, let alone log in to their nhs email account!

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

They probably don't even have a nhs email account in the first place. Boots immediately spring to mind still using their crappy Nexphase and 1234567th other standalone systems!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Mate, you want standalone systems, have a look at Compass. It's so ancient it needs a standalone module to enable it to handle ETP.

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

It was only a matter of time. Murphy's law; Even if it cannot possibly go wrong, it will.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

This is an easy one to resolve - ban the faxing of prescriptions!

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

Easier to be said than done.

As a practice pharmacist I really don't mind scrapping the fax machines as we general practices can always send through etp and communicate with nhs emails. The main issue lies within community pharmacies many of which 1) have no scanner in place to scan script requests to a workstation then send them through nhs email; 2) are not using nhs email for communication on regular basis anyway and 3) don't even have a nhs email account in the first place! 

Scrapping fax machine will be very disruptive to community sector in terms of urgent requesting unless other measures (e.g. a scanner and a working nhs email account) are in place of it. 

C A, Community pharmacist

1a) Who is going to pay for scanners?
1b) Do we really need to scan a repeat slip?
1c) Some PMRs have capacity to send requests via email. Maybe it's time for Pharmacy to demand more from PMR suppliers. We pay enough for them.
2) 1 local surgery likes requests via email. Most of the rest like repeat slips, which the pharmacy have to physically take to the surgery. So from a pharmacy perspective emails are cheaper and more efficient.
3) Most pharmacies should have NHSmail... it's a gateway criteria

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

It's only a tiny point but Community Pharmacies don't order urgent prescriptions unless somebody else (ie. patient or prescriber) has cocked it up first. Even then, we only order things urgently because our Duty of Care (remember that?) is to the Patient. I have no problem banning faxing of prescriptions (other than an anonymised version to comply with quotas) and likewise stopping the ordering of urgent scripts by fax - but patients will suffer and GPs will get the backlash, 'cause you can be absolutely sure I'll let them know where the fault lies!

 

s8chy P, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Primary care pharmacist, You're not very bright

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

From a practice pov shutting down fax machine permanently overnight means less workload for me and I can't really complain about that. How about try shutting down fax machines on all sides straightaway? Let's see who gets hit the hardest shall we? Please do enlighten me how are you going to request urgent script without a fax machine, a scanner and a nhs email address. Please don't bs me saying by phone call because 99.999% practices out there don't take request over the phone anymore.

Anonymous Anonymous, Information Technology

I'll be brief as I'm sure you'll be "very busy" as most of the no hopers in GP surgeries purport to be. I actually quit working in a GP surgery as I didn't want to be a doctor's lackey but each to their own. In any case if surgeries get rid of their faxes then there shall be no "urgent requests" so it'll be even less workload for me too! Bingo!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

And this is why pharmacists are laughed at professionally, I'm looking at this infighting here as a prime example. I'm sure we can be better than this.

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