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Wirral CCG looks to scrap another pharmacy service

Patients with long-term conditions will be affected by the change to repeat prescriptions ordering

The pharmacy repeat prescription service is the latest scheme at risk in Wirral after its minor ailments and homeopathy schemes were scrapped last year.

Results of a pilot scheme to encourage patients to order their prescriptions direct from their GP practice are "currently being evaluated", Wirral clinical commissioning group (CCG) told C+D last month (April 6).

This is the latest pharmacy service to be terminated by the CCG since October 2016, after it halted funding for its minor ailments scheme and homeopathy services.

It is "best practice" to "routinely review the contracts we commission", the CCG said, but "there are currently no plans" to review any more pharmacy services.

Reducing medicines waste?

The move to scrap pharmacy repeat prescriptions aims to “increase the control by the patient for ordering their medicines, and reduce unintended medicines waste”, the CCG said.

However, whether the change would reduce waste is “unproven at the moment”, the chief executive officer of Cheshire and Wirral local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) Helen Murphy told C+D last week (May 24).

"It is difficult to know what the impact is going to be in terms of number of prescriptions dispensed."

Ms Murphy believes the CCG will implement the changes to repeat prescriptions ordering later this year.

Potential negative impact

“Our main concern really is around the potential impact on the patient groups” and the possible risk of "non-adherence", Ms Murphy said. "It's so difficult to understand what the potential negative impact will be."

The GP practices included in the pilot had the option of excluding “vulnerable patients”, the CCG said.

However, patients with long-term conditions, including asthma and diabetes, will be affected by the change, it added.

If patients suffer problems as a result of not having taken their medication effectively they might create other costs to the NHS in their use of “out-of-hours [pharmacy access] or A&E”, Ms Murphy warned.

Preference for repeat dispensing

The LPC highlighted its concerns to the Midlands and Lancashire commissioning support unit (CSU), who are rolling out the changes on behalf of the CCG, she said.

"To some extent they will listen to us," Ms Murphy added. "But I think the CCG has made a very clear decision that this is something they want to do.

"From an LPC perspective, our preference would be for suitable patients to be put on repeat dispensing rather than shifting across to ordering themselves," she said.

Do you know of any pharmacy services being decommissioned in your area?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Pretty much in my travels, 90% of all phone calls into any pharmacy is about whatever form of repeat medication system they've subscribed to.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

I am glad that the Wirral CCG have decided to do the right thing. There will be significant savings for the taxpayer, patients will be better served, some contractors will need to modify their predatory behaviour. 

John Dow, Advertising

Yes , there are a number of vile patients out there who treat pharmacists and staff like something on their shoe. Would be interesting to watch them having to sort their own medication issues out and most likely less hassle for pharmacies.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

I agree with Valentine, repeat prescription service is very resource intensive and absolves the patient of all responsibility. In most cases, the pharmacist is simply facilitating getting the script - why would any pharnmacist miss this resource-intensive, unpaid work?! As I've said previously, pharmacists need to stop free services and start valuing their worth - we've done too many free services for far too long and it is certainly not being appreciated!

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

I would imagine most pharmacies in the country do this without the benefit of being part of any paid scheme/service - we certainly do. So fair dues to the LPC for being able to wrangle a few quid from the CCG for it. However... you're now off the hook for every idiotic call about 'why haven't you done my metmorfin again this month?!', etc. so lucky you - that's worth every penny in my opinion!

In all seriousness, totally agree with Seal above... most people can manage to pick up the phone and order their meds. We've lulled them into a stupor of laziness by doing everything for them. I did say most... for the old folks and those genuinely not able to do it I'm more than happy to help out and always have been. The rest of the lazy sods can do the leg work themselves.

Seal Patel, Community pharmacist

100% the way to go. Let ppts take care of their own ordering, any issues let them phone and chase up queries. Also will help to reduce costs of unwanted items that never get dispensed but are claimed for. 

Andy Burrells, Community pharmacist

I wish that was the case but majority of issues with this service I deal with I act as a go-between for (mainly) elderly pts and surgery so ultimately performing same role for even less remuneration

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