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Give pharmacists power to change prescriptions, RPS demands

Giving pharmacists more freedom would help “prevent unnecessary delays”, the RPS said.
Giving pharmacists more freedom would help “prevent unnecessary delays”, the RPS said.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has urged the government to allow pharmacists in England to make changes to prescriptions if there are medicines shortages.

In a letter published in The Times last week (August 6), RPS president Sandra Gidley urged the government to allow community pharmacists to “make changes to prescriptions that would reduce unnecessary delays in providing medicines to patients in the event of a supply shortage”.

This would help “prevent unnecessary delays”, and could, for example, see pharmacists provide  a two-week supply to a patient, and asking them to then “collect the rest in a fortnight”, she said.

“At present, any changes to quantities, strength or formulation can legally only be done by the prescriber. A change to medicines legislation is needed to enable pharmacists to speed up patients’ access to medicines, which would also have the added benefit of reducing the workload of GPs,” Ms Gidley added.

Referencing Brexit, she said it is “vital that the UK and EU agree a deal on medicines regulation as soon as possible”.

In May, the RPS filed a submission to the Health Select Committee asking for a legislation amendment that would allow pharmacists to make changes to prescriptions all the time, not just when the government has issued a serious shortage protocol.

This would “save patients having to go back to their prescriber and help reduce the workload of GPs”, the organisation said at the time.

9 Comments
Question: 
Do you think pharmacists should be able to make changes to prescriptions?

Not-So-Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

With great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately though, not great remuneration.....

'which would also have the added benefit of reducing the workload of GPs' -  I am sick to DEATH of hearing how overworked GPs are and how much we can take off their workload. Give me their effing pay then I will do their effing work, and a damned sight better too because I won't cosset myself away if there is a prospect of getting some nasty disease off one of those filthy dirty patient things.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I think there is a perception that Pharmacists can already do this. And for the common-sense changes, this makes perfect sense, in my opinion. Not only would it save patients time, but it avoids having to make several phone calls.

Usually, the challenge I hear back from this is when patients on are strict instruction to use something specific. In which case, the answer is simple.

Note to Pharmacist: Please maintain this formulation specifically because of XYZ. 

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Abosultely agree, the common sense changes should be allowed as standard

Edward H Rowan, Locum pharmacist

They don't trust us. Otherwise this would have been done years ago.

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Agreed. There are always some bad apples in every profession that will exploit this for monetary gain.

Not-So-Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Sadly it was ever thus. Even when I first started out in this rapidly going down the tubes profession, there were pharmacists comitting prescription fraud by adding items onto scripts or amending quantities (hand-written scripts back then, remember)

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Also there were reports pharmacists taking payments for rxs from patients, and then if it was a cheap item, they would shred that rx and keep the rx charge!

Career Miss Take, Locum pharmacist

Rather naive not agree

Not-So-Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

No idea why a thumbs down. This is absolutely true - 28 diazepam for example was a few pence, not a CD back then so a quick and easy profit.

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