Guide to NHS Repeat Prescriptions

By Jemma Bradbury

So many of us rely on repeat prescriptions and it can become quite confusing when you start, or when the number of prescriptions you have to keep track of increases.

I’ve laid out the answers to the most important and frequently asked questions surrounding repeat prescriptions below.

Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll feel a little more in control of your prescriptions.


1. What is a repeat prescription?

Knowing what a repeat prescription is is an important step in keeping on top of your health. 

If your doctor prescribes you with medication that you’ll be taking on a regular basis, this can be done as a repeat prescription. This would mean that the doctor has given permission for you to be given this prescription in the future without first having to make an appointment with your doctor.


2. How do repeat prescriptions work?

When you have been prescribed medication, you will be told by your doctor if you’ll need to take this regularly, and how often you’ll be taking it. This will also be included on the prescription form you provide the pharmacist.

You can request for this to be a repeat prescription, but usually your doctor will let you know when they are happy for you to take the medication without regular check-ins. This will generally happen once you’ve taken the medication long enough to assess how you’ve reacted to the medication.

The prescription they write for you will have a white side and a green side. The green side will be given to the pharmacist, so that they can get your prescription for you. The white side will be for you to keep, as your doctor will have indicated on it that they would like this medication to be available to you on a regular basis without an appointment.

To summarise, while there are several ways to use your repeat prescriptions, they will all follow the same steps of being written by a doctor, you ordering subsequent prescriptions for them to be dispensed by a pharmacist. I’ll go into more detail next about how you can do that.


3. How to order, collect and reorder a prescription?

Prescription ordering can be quite complicated and difficult to find out what you should be doing with yours. Every healthcare provider will have a service or two that they prefer, but they will advise you of that when giving you the prescription. This can include an online form to fill out or a number to call when it’s time for you to order your medication.

There are a few methods to order your prescriptions. You can order online, on the phone and in person. The most common methods are in person and online. You can find more information about electronic repeat prescriptions on the NHS website here.


4. How do I get a repeat prescription from my doctor?

You could of course book an appointment to see your doctor, and request a repeat prescription there. Or you could do it online, through apps such as Healthera.

GPs are currently working hard to find ways that simplify the process for patients to order prescriptions, due to them taking an incredible amount of time at the moment, as you can see in this study. This means that the methods of doing so will be constantly evolving, so it’s important to communicate with your own doctor’s surgery about what they offer.


5. How long does a repeat prescription take?

It generally takes about two working days for your repeat prescription request to be processed by your GP / doctor’s surgery, after which it will be sent to the pharmacy. It will then be available to be collected from the pharmacy depending on their stock, but ordinarily this may be between a number of minutes and a few hours.

In some circumstances you may want to get your prescription earlier, potentially because you’re going to be away for a while. You would have to let your doctor know, either through an appointment, or by using our app to leave them a note when ordering your prescription. They will decide whether or not they want the medication to be released to you, and if extra medication will need to be provided depending on the reasons you’ve given.


6. Can I order my repeat prescription online?

Thankfully, yes, as referred to earlier. It’s historically been fairly complicated to do considering that not all GPs and pharmacies have the same capabilities, but companies like Healthera are trying their best to make this process as streamlined as possible.

Right now, there are a few ways to do this that you can choose from, depending on your GP surgery, pharmacy and where you live.

Some GPs have their own online system where you can order repeat prescriptions - you’ll need to check with them. 

Through Healthera, you can order your prescription using the app. Thankfully due to a recent integration, the repeat prescription requests go straight from the patient to the GP clinical system, seamlessly aligning it with NHS repeat prescription ordering processes.

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