Pilot to improve medicines safety and reduce waste

A new pilot in 19 Sefton GP practices is beginning on 1st September, which will improve the safety of repeat prescriptions and reduce wasted medicines, estimated at costing the local NHS at least £2 million each year.

NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS South Sefton CCG are piloting the new system that stops pharmacies from being able to order repeat prescriptions on behalf of patients from those participating practices.

Susanne Lynch, head of medicines management for both CCGs, said: “It is important to note that the pilot will not affect anyone who already orders their own repeat prescriptions directly from their GP practice, and whilst the new system may be inconvenient for some, it does address some very real medicines safety issues as well as safeguarding precious NHS funds.”   

Whilst GP practices will put special arrangements in place for those patients who are not able to order their own repeat prescriptions directly from their GP practice, the new system is expected to affect just over 47,000 of a total of nearly 280,000 people registered at practices in Sefton.

It means that from 1 September, GP practices will be able to more safely monitor repeat prescriptions for these patients, ensuring their repeat medications remain appropriate for their individual medical conditions, which often change over time.

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG and Southport GP, said: “We know that the current system often leads to patients receiving medications they do not require, yet because their pharmacy orders their repeats for them people continue to receive excess, which is a real safety issue and we need to end this.” 

So, as well as introducing safer prescribing systems, the scheme will also save money, enabling more vital NHS funds to be spent on priority healthcare benefiting a greater number of Sefton residents.

Councillor Catie Page, chair of Sefton Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “We know our NHS services are operating in difficult financial times, so anything that can save resources whilst importantly improving patient safety at the same time has to be welcomed and I’d encourage residents who may experience some initial inconvenience to consider the overwhelming safety and cost benefits of this pilot.”

Bootle GP, Dr Anna Ferguson, added: “This is about patients, carers, practices and pharmacies working together to achieve the safest and most cost effective prescribing systems that benefit us all.” 

Cllr Page concluded: “If you are experiencing any difficulties don’t be afraid to speak to your practice or the Patient Advice and Liaison Service to resolve any issues.” 

The pilot will initially run for six months in the 19 participating practices and patients will be invited to give their views and experiences as part of the evaluation of the system.

Anyone wanting to give their views about the pilot can complete a short survey, which can be found on each CCG’s website, along with more information about the project by following the links below.

NHS Southport and Formby CCG website – http://www.southportandformbyccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/current-exercises/pilot-scheme-for-ordering-repeat-medicines/

NHS South Sefton CCG website – http://www.southseftonccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/current-exercises/pilot-scheme-for-ordering-repeat-medicines/     

Those patients affected by the scheme have been sent a letter from their practice and the two CCGs, giving them full details of how the pilot will work and what it means for them. Anyone who has queries or who wants to know more can contact the PALS team on 0800 218 2333 or email CMCSU.PALS@nhs.net