North West Chief Pharmacist urges people to order repeat prescriptions ahead of the Spring bank holiday

Karen O’Brien MBE North West chief pharmacist is advising members of the public to order any repeat prescriptions ahead of the spring bank holiday.

Any repeat prescriptions due in the days over the May bank holiday will need to be ordered by Friday, 17th May.

Each bank holiday the NHS 111 phone service sees huge increases in calls from people who need urgent repeat prescriptions. Last spring bank holiday weekend (27-19 May 23) over 19,000 calls were received by the NHS 111 service, which was a 20% increase on the previous week.

In the same weekend, there was a 95% increase in the amount of people calling 111 for emergency repeat prescriptions compared to the weekend before.

Pharmacies may have limited opening hours over the Spring bank holiday, and many will be closed on Monday 27 May, making it more challenging for patients to access medicines at short notice. Waiting and using emergency or urgent services over the break puts added pressure on already busy NHS services. 

Karen said: “Keeping your medicine cabinets stocked, knowing when your GP practice is open, and planning for repeat prescriptions that are due will ensure you can make the most of the bank holiday weekend. 

“Running out of your usual medication can have serious consequences, especially if you use them to control a heart condition, breathing problems or have a health condition such as diabetes”.

The region’s lead GP Dr Paula Cowan, Medical Director for Primary Care for NHS England – North West, reiterated the message saying: “If you take regular medications, for whatever reason, and if you are due a repeat prescription in the week leading up to Spring bank holiday weekend, please remember to always request your repeat via your practice or the NHS app by Friday 17 May.

“This enables your GP practice and pharmacy to have your repeat medication ready in time for you. This is particularly important ahead of bank holiday weekends. Please help us to help you and avoid any gaps in your medication,” 

She added: “The easiest way to order repeat prescriptions is by using GP online services, via the NHS App or through your GP practice website. If you do not have access to GP online services, you can phone your GP practice to order prescriptions.”

Paul Johnston, Senior Service Delivery Manager for NHS 111, said, “NHS 111 online provides a wide range of health advice. You’ll answer the same questions and often get the information you need quicker than phoning to speak to a health advisor.

 “Calls to the service go up over the bank holiday and, in particular, people requesting emergency medicine, so we would urge people to think ahead and ensure they have enough before the weekend.”

As well as ordering repeat medications, the NHS App allows people to book and cancel appointments at their GP practice, view their health record and get health advice, searching trusted NHS information and advice on hundreds of conditions and treatments.  Download the NHS App on the app store or on google play.

Over the May bank holiday, urgent and emergency care services will be open as normal.  The public should call 999 or attend accident and emergency services in the event of a life or limb threatening emergency. For non-emergency health advice, people can contact NHS 111 online at, which offers the same help and advice as the telephone service. If you cannot access 111 online, please call 111.

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