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The repeat prescribing report


Report reveals repeat prescriptions cost the NHS almost £8 billion a year.

A new report written by , Research Practitioner in Primary Care Pharmacy at the University of Bradford and Practice Pharmacist at Pharmacy Support Services has revealed that almost half of the UK population are reliant on repeat prescriptions, costing the NHS almost £8 billion a year – its biggest cost after staff, and almost half its total spend on medicine. Over 800 million items of repeat medicines are currently dispensed each year, but this number is expected to spiral over the next 25 years because of an increasingly older population living with more long-term conditions

The report calls for patients to register for online medicine management to improve how repeat prescriptions are managed that will help ease the strain on the NHS.

The Repeat Prescription Report has been published by Pharmacy2U, the biggest online NHS repeat prescription service in the country and a founding partner of the Electronic Prescription Service – the NHS service that allows GPs to send prescriptions electronically to a patient’s chosen pharmacy and has been responsible for 59 per cent of all dispensed medicines this year.

The report outlines how managing repeat prescriptions online saves GPs six hours and 40 minutes a week on paperwork. Financial savings from the Electronic Prescription Service alone over a three-year period are estimated to have been nearly £600 million. It also reveals the benefits to patients of managing their repeat prescriptions online. For example, more than a fifth of people said they have missed a GP appointment or failed to pick up a prescription due to difficulty making opening hours, getting time off work or medical difficulty getting there.

Dr Duncan Petty, who authored the report, comments: “Repeat prescriptions are a part of many people’s lives and as the population continues to age, many more will be living with long term conditions that require them. Repeat prescriptions currently place a great strain on patients and the NHS, though the NHS is working to improve the efficiency of the prescription ordering process through online ordering and the supply of prescriptions. By managing repeat prescriptions online it helps the NHS and makes life easier and more convenient for patients too. NHS staff in general practice and pharmacy will need to support patients with online ordering and continue developing new services to support people on multiple long-term medicines.”

Mark Livingstone, CEO of Pharmacy2U, comments: “The report makes it clear that continued digital transformation is essential in improving patient access to healthcare and helping to relieve the strain on the NHS. Technology has transformed industries from retail and entertainment to travel and leisure and it is now making a significant and much needed mark on healthcare. We have invested heavily in our technological infrastructure and are on a mission to help modernise healthcare and improve patient outcome in partnership with the NHS by managing repeat prescriptions from request to delivery, which relieves both the time and stress put on GPs, represents better value to the NHS and improves patient medicine adherence.”

, Head of the University of Bradford School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences comments: "The research that has led to this report highlights how better use of digital technologies and online systems can benefit patients, save the doctor’s time and save NHS money. Changes are urgently needed, and this report could not have come at a better time."

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