In July, Jan Shortt, NPC General Secretary, wrote to Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS in England, urging a rethink of the new guidance from NHS England that encourages doctors’ surgeries to abandon taking repeat prescription requests by phone and not to exclude millions of older and vulnerable people from using the telephone as a method of getting repeat prescriptions. We are sharing the NHS England response with you.
The response can be found here and below
Dear Ms Shortt,
Thank you for your letter of 14 July regarding repeat prescriptions, which Simon Stevens has asked me to reply to on his behalf.
I can confirm that NHS England & NHS Improvement has not asked practices to stop taking requests for repeat prescriptions by phone.
GP practices are required to ensure patients can access their medicines. Many practices have adopted new systems during the COVID-19 pandemic and have encouraged patients to request repeat prescriptions online where appropriate.
However, practices must have systems in place to enable patients to order repeat prescriptions without going online, as we recognise online ordering is not appropriate for everyone.
We have spoken to the local commissioner about this matter who is following up with the practice concerned.We will also remind practices of the position in our primary care bulletin.
Dr Nikita Kanani
Medical Director for Primary Care
NHS England and NHS Improvement
The letter to Sir Steven Stevens can be found here and below
Dear Sir Simon,
Re: Exclusion of the Elderly and other vulnerable people
The National Pensioners Convention is the largest campaigning organisation in the UK representing around 1.5 million older people. We work for the benefit of all pensioners – now and in the future – in order that they may have dignity in retirement.
We are appalled at the press article at the weekend that states NHS England are giving new guidance to GP surgeries to abandon taking requests for repeat prescriptions by phone with effect from 1 September.
As a publicly funded body, your duty is to ensure equality of access to all services under your umbrella. This duty is now severely undermined by encouraging access to repeat prescriptions only online or by personal visit.
The rush to move to online services is damaging to older people as they do not engage with technology whether that is because of cost or other reasons. The same may be said of other vulnerable groups in society that have no access to online facilities. For NHS England to force this upon the older generation of patients within GP surgeries is either remarkably naïve or uncaring.
Likewise, the difficulties older people have in travelling to GP surgeries is a burden they really don’t need right now. The same difficulties would be experienced by those with a variety of disabilities. We are very concerned that in the light of COVID-19 and the physical, mental and emotional well-being of those who have spent months in lockdown, that medication will not reach those it should.
We urge you to re-think your strategy and encourage GPs to retain the option to access repeat prescriptions by phone. Exclusion is becoming the norm and we must work together to ensure that we maintain the traditional accesses whilst introducing new ones slowly and consciously.
There is little time left until 1 September and we expect that as a publicly funded body you will carry out an Equality Impact Assessment and let us have a copy before moving to implementation on that date.