The chances are, if you are reading this and you have been told by your doctor that you’ll be on a repeat prescription course of medication for a while, you know at least one method of stocking up your tablets.
But how many of us ask ourselves if there is an easier way?
For me, despite having once worked within pharmacy (in cosmetic sales) and despite knowing lots of friends and family who are on repeat medicines, I wasn’t aware of the options available. So what is the best way to get your NHS repeat prescription?
I want to share my experience with you, so you might save some time and some headaches.
I have been lucky growing up that I made it to the ripe old age of 26 without needing to be on any medication for more than a couple of months. Recently however that changed. And after a much-needed visit to my GP, I found myself walking out of the double doors, clutching a green slip in my hand and coming to a surprising realisation – This is going to take up a lot of my time! Aside from the worries I had about the effects of my condition on my work or hobbies I also had to:
- Remember to take my medicine at the correct times.
- Get check-ups to monitor my blood pressure.
- Remember when to re order.
- And repeatedly go through the unfamiliar process of getting my next batch of medicines again.
Month one – Visits to the GP:
Like most of my friends I have a pretty intensive job, a job in an office out of town that keeps me busy during long days. When I realised it was almost the end of the month, I’m embarrassed to say that I still hadn’t reordered my medicine. I had three days worth left. Hoping I still had enough time, I called my GP’s Surgery to tell them about my problem. I think it’s unlikely anyone reading this article will be unfamiliar with the frustration of being stuck on hold to their local medical practise, so I won’t dwell on it. I was relieved when I finally got through – mere minutes before they were due to close for the day. The lady I spoke to was really helpful and thankfully managed to process my request. I was told my GP would review it, and should be ready to collect in two or three days. I called again on the second day. I’m glad I did because I found they had been busy and it wouldn’t be ready until tomorrow.
Finding time to collect my repeat prescription slip wasn’t easy. I was a bit desperate at this point, so I left work early and headed straight for the surgery, before taking it to the pharmacy and waiting for them to make it up. The pharmacy I visited was busy. It took a little while for them to get my repeat prescription ready. They did it then and there. I was soon set for another month of mobile phone alarms, and sporadic worrying about my health.
So I missed a day of my medication. I took time out of work to travel down to collect my prescription Spent a fair bit of time making phone calls – maybe I did get a little stressed.
I’ll put my hands up. I didn’t do my research. I got caught up with work and despite my good intentions didn’t make my health a priority. Next month I’ll do this better.
Month two – Online ordering:
This time around I did give my medicine order a bit of thought. As well as remembering to reorder earlier I also tried a different approach. A colleague had suggested trying an online pharmacy. They ostensibly offered a ‘quick and easy’ method of ordering a repeat prescription online. I took his advice and discovered a few things. Firstly, I have to say the ‘quick and easy’ part may be subject to opinion.
In all, I was a bit confused by the process. I won’t mention which business I used but I did have a research on my own and found that a few companies offer a similar service. When I did eventually manage to figure it out (no thanks to the confusing explanation on the website) I arranged to have my medicine delivered. What I was shocked to see was that it was going to take a week, as the medicine had to be sent off for. Meaning I would risk missing a few doses again.
The package arrived nine days later and thankfully my house-mate was around to sign for it. But I did miss taking my pills again, for three whole days. When I got back and opened the package, I found that one of my medicines looked very different from the ones I’d been given before. Being a pragmatic kind of guy, I checked and double checked the medicine name and dosage to be certain there hadn’t been a mistake, and went ahead anyway. But it would have been nice to have a healthcare professional to contact to be sure. As it is, I don’t even have any clue which pharmacy this came from. This got me thinking. If there was a problem with this service, missing medicine, faulty packaging, delayed delivery. What do I do?
I can’t believe how long this took. What turned out to be a fairly complex and non-intuitive process left me with a late delivery and an unfamiliar looking medicine. In retrospect, that isn’t a problem but I guess it would be nice to have the option to ask someone about this.
I guess I could use this service again, if I ordered much earlier. But in all the service was impersonal, and I didn’t receive or have access to advice or information which would have been useful.
Month three – A better solution:
I was beginning to feel the frustration this month. 12 weeks into my treatment and I was yet to get this medicine ordering thing right. My schedule was as busy as ever. Despite having reminded myself to order my medicine in due time I found myself dreading the ordeal of having to sort out my NHS repeat prescription again. Upon arriving home one evening (long before my pills ran out,) my housemate told me he’d just been into the local pharmacy, to pick up something for his cold. While he was there, the counter assistant told him about an app called Healthera.
Healthera helps patients manage medicines. And she said by using the app through the pharmacy he could order his medicines each month. Feeling at least a little apprehensive, I thought I’d give it a go. I downloaded the app, and found I had the option to set reminders for my medicines. By scanning the barcode on the box the app can take in most of the medicines information, and I can set reminders for when to reorder. By entering some details and clicking a few buttons. The app ordered my medicine through the local pharmacy. After entering my medicine, I got a notification from my pharmacist. Through the Healthera app, my pharmacist informed me that my repeat prescription was processing. I got a message from the pharmacist later, offering her help with any advice I might need. In just two days, I got a notification on the app, telling me my NHS repeat prescription was ready to collect. As simple as that.
This was the fastest and nicest method I tried. My prescription was for collection in two days and it was really nice to get a personal message from the pharmacy.
I don’t see why I’d need another method than this. My app reminds me when to order my medicines, when to take them, and gives me fast direct access to a healthcare professional through messaging, which I think is awesome (because I hate phone calls.)
To conclude, I have to say Healthera’s app is the best method I’ve found to get my NHS repeat prescription. It links me to my local pharmacy, gives me the reminder I need, gives me access to advice, support and clinical services.
Shane, Cambridge (Healthera repeat prescription user)
Healthera operates a leading healthcare marketplace that provides patients with medicines, healthcare services and products through the largest digital platform of pharmacies and GPs in the UK, including national chains and independent providers. Download Healthera App to order NHS repeat prescription online!