Electronic repeat dispensing: NHS service takes away patients’ worry over getting medicines at bank holidays

Remembering to order repeat medication is often a struggle for busy people, but there is a solution: electronic repeat dispensing (known as eRD) – and with Easter marking the start of five springtime bank holidays, when some GP practices and pharmacies’ opening hours may change, the time to act is now.

Electronic repeat dispensing gives patients the reassurance of knowing their next prescription will be ready for collection at their pharmacy when they need it, and flexibility so they have medication at busy times like bank holidays.

For people who have a regular repeat prescription, eRD can be set up easily by asking their GP about it or speaking with their community pharmacist. It is a convenient service which pre-orders up to a year’s worth of their medication which they can collect at agreed intervals at their local pharmacy.

In Newcastle, staff at one busy GP practice which introduced eRD during the Covid-19 pandemic say the NHS system has transformed the efficiency of dispensing regular medications, with benefits for patients and practice staff alike.

Sharon Graham, Patient Manager at the city’s Walker Medical Group, says: “For patients, it’s a lot easier than having to make a phone call to the prescription clerk, or calling into the surgery to fill a form in to request your medication.

“With electronic repeat dispensing, you’ve got one digital signature and it goes to the pharmacy for the full year. The patient just needs to contact the pharmacy when it’s due and the pharmacy will be able to issue it. It’s one of the best things we’ve brought into the practice and it’s going really well.”

Dr Tim Binmore was instrumental in introducing eRD at the practice, which has more than 11,000 registered patients.

Dr Tim Binmore, Walker Medical Group

“We saw electronic repeat dispensing as an opportunity to use the computer system to reduce workload and make life easier for our patients at the same time,” says Dr Binmore (pictured).

“It’s all about time,” he adds. “We spend less time signing prescriptions, and less time printing prescriptions. It really is a reduction in time spent on computers that we can do more useful work with instead.”

Local pharmacy manager Nisha Sehgal assists many of the patients from the nearby Walker Medical Group.

Nisha says: “I think for patients electronic repeat dispensing is quite reassuring. They know they’ve got a batch of prescriptions at the pharmacy whenever they need them, so if they’re going away we can manage that situation for them without disturbing the GP.

“For busy periods like bank holidays, summer holidays, or Christmas, electronic repeat dispensing definitely benefits because it allows patients not to worry about getting their prescription ordered.”

Dr Binmore adds: “My message to other medical practices considering eRD is definitely go for it. It’s not difficult. You’ll find it really does make a difference to workload and you and your team can get on and do other things with the time you save.”

If you’re interested in the flexibility and convenience of receiving your regular medications through the NHS electronic repeat dispensing service ask your GP or community pharmacist if you’re suitable. Read more at the NHS information webpage.