Allow pharmacists to alter prescriptions

Today, The Times has published a letter from RPS President Sandra Gidley calling for all community pharmacists to be allowed to make changes to prescriptions that would reduce unnecessary delays in providing medicines to patients in the event of a supply shortage:

Let pharmacists alter prescriptions

“It is vital that the UK and EU agree a deal on medicines regulation as soon as possible.

“Pharmacists find themselves at the sharp end when patients cannot obtain the medicines that they need. It would prevent a lot of unnecessary delays if community pharmacists were allowed to make changes to a prescription when a medicine is in short supply or out of stock. This could be as simple as providing two weeks’ supply and asking the patient to collect the rest in a fortnight.

“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.”

Pharmacists in hospital, and in community pharmacies in Scotland already routinely alter prescriptions for the benefit of patients and this imbalance must be addressed. We will continue to raise the issue with Governments and other health bodies and work on your behalf to achieve change for the profession.

The call to change the law is one of the policy proposals in The Future of Pharmacy in a Sustainable NHS: Key Principles for Transformation and Growth and was also part of the RPS submission to the Health Select Committee on COVID-19 and pharmacy.