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Tuesday, 17 April 2012 (3025635)
Prescription hike
by Natasha Young

SOME Sefton patients are having to switch from buying their prescriptions once every three months to every 28 days, as surgeries adopt a policy advised by the primary care trust.

For several years NHS Sefton has considered the 28-day prescribing scheme to be the ‘best practice' to improve safety and reduce wastage across the borough, but it is down to individual surgeries to take the practice on board.

Churchtown Medical Centre is understood to have become the latest surgery to issue its prescriptions every 28 days, sparking complaints from those affected as patients will more regularly be required to pay the £7.65 single prescription item charge.

Following the change one person, who asked not to be named, told the Champion: “Previously the issue of three monthly allocation of drugs as prescribed at the practice could apply but now all patients are expected to visit every month which, despite their assurances to the contrary, is very inconvenient, is a major cost increase too (to those who pay), and this policy is alleged to be primarily for the better control of wasted drugs.”

Dr Niall Leonard, chair of Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group, maintained that safety and wastage are the main reasons to introduce the policy rather than receiving more money from patients. He said: “Like many other areas across the country, Sefton adopted a 28 day prescribing policy a number of years ago and has actively been promoting this because research found it is much safer for patients.

”Patients can be reviewed more frequently to ensure their medication continues to be right for them. It allows problems to be spotted as soon as possible, and having less medication in the home at any one time is not only safer but often easier and less confusing to manage.

“As well as safety issues, 28 day prescribing costs the NHS much less than issuing supplies for 56 days or more because fewer medicines are wasted.

”The estimated value of wasted medicines in Southport and Formby is £2 million per year, equal to 307 hip replacements or 400 knee replacements. The real cost is likely to be higher and the Department of Health estimates that around 10% of all drugs prescribed are wasted. This is money that could be used to fund additional health services and treatments.“

With some patients in the area currently having to pay out for prescriptions more often than others, Southport's MP John Pugh explained this could change in the future when the new system is introduced. He said: ”Currently surgeries can do as they wish, but what they do in the future will have to be justified by health and wellbeing boards which have patient representation on them.“

NHS Sefton advises patients who have to pay for more than three prescriptions in three months that it may be cheaper to purchase a Prepayment Prescription Certificate (PPC), which costs £29.10 for three months and £104 for 12 months. For more information call 0845 850 0030 or visit


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