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Remember to order repeat meds before the festivities

Remember to pick up your repeat prescriptions well before the holidays

With Christmas fast approaching, health professionals are reminding patients to pick up their repeat prescriptions well before GP practices and pharmacies close for the holidays.

Each Christmas sees many patients calling the NHS 111 helpline because they have run out of medication, leading to unnecessary worry for themselves and increasing pressure on busy urgent care and out-of-hours NHS services.

Every practice handles repeat prescriptions differently, so if you are unsure speak to staff early to find out what their process is.

Dr John Whitehead, NHS clinical commissioning group lead for urgent care, said: “With many GP practices closed for the holidays, the out-of-hours GPs are already working flat out to see patients with urgent health issues, so we really don’t want them using their precious time writing repeat prescriptions for patients who could have ordered their medicine before the holidays.

“The free NHS 111 helpline can facilitate the supply of urgent repeat prescriptions for patients with a genuine immediate need – but it’s important to remember that, with the expected high workload during this holiday period, patients should take all reasonable steps to ensure they have adequate supplies.

“Please check that you have enough of your prescription medication to get you through the holidays. That way we can save the slots with the out-of-hours GPs for those people with urgent healthcare issues.”

For people going away during the festivities, it is particularly important to make sure you have enough medication and to take it all with you. It is also a good idea to take details of repeat medication with you, such as the re-order list that comes with each prescription.

Pharmacist Mark Stone said: “Many people need repeat medication to manage long-term conditions and most remember to order and collect their prescriptions well in advance of Christmas, which is very helpful and appreciated.

“However, in the busy run-up to the holidays it’s easy to forget to pick up a repeat prescription and this can lead to problems once GP practices and pharmacies close for the holidays.

“So our advice is very simple. Check that you have sufficient medication for Christmas and the New Year. If you don’t, save yourself the worry and re-order your prescription now while there’s time for it be processed and dispensed.

“Not only will you be doing yourself a favour, you’ll also be helping the NHS by reducing pressure on busy urgent care services over the Christmas period.” For more health advice during the festive period, visit the NHS Choices website: www.nhs.uk.