In times of urgency, running out of essential medication can be a stressful situation. Whether your GP surgery is closed due to Christmas or you’re away from home, it’s important to know the options available to obtain an emergency supply of medicine. This article will guide you through the steps and resources you can utilise to access out-of-hours medicine promptly and efficiently.
What to do if you have a prescription
If you already have a prescription for your medication and urgently need it dispensed, there are several steps you can take to obtain it quickly:
Visit the local community pharmacy
If your nearest pharmacy is closed, don’t worry. You can still get your medication from any pharmacy as long as they have it in stock. The NHS pharmacy service search tool can help you find other nearby pharmacies and their opening hours. Some pharmacies even operate until midnight or later, including public holidays.
Contact NHS 111
If you prefer speaking to a healthcare professional before heading to a pharmacy, you can call NHS 111 for free by dialling 111 on your mobile or landline. The person you speak to will assist you in finding an out-of-hours pharmacy or another NHS service in your area.
Utilise NHS walk-in centres
Another option is to visit an NHS walk-in centre. These centres can provide consultations and, in some cases, dispense medicines after the consultation. The NHS walk-in centre service search tool can help you find the nearest walk-in centre in your area.
Contact your GP practice
If none of the above options are available or suitable for your situation, you can call your GP surgery. They should have details of their out-of-hours service recorded on their answering machine. However, it’s important to note that this service is intended for emergencies and should not be routinely used. You can find your GP surgery’s phone number using the NHS GP service finder.
Visit the nearest A&E
In case of an emergency where none of the previous options have been successful, you can visit your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department. The service search tool can help you find the closest A&E facility.
What to do if you don’t have a prescription
If you run out of prescription medication and don’t have a prescription with you, there are still options available to get an emergency supply from a pharmacy without a prescription:
Bring an old prescription or packaging
If your medication is prescribed as a repeat prescription, you can take an old prescription or the medicine’s packaging with you to the pharmacy, if available. This can help the pharmacist validate your need for the medication.
Call NHS 111
If your medication is not prescribed as a repeat prescription, you can call NHS 111 to discuss your options. They can guide you in obtaining an emergency supply without a prescription. Contact NHS 111 via telephone or use the online service here: Emergency prescriptions – NHS 111.
Assessment by the pharmacist
When seeking an emergency supply without a prescription, you will be assessed by a community pharmacist. They will need to determine if you require the medicine immediately, verify the source of the previous prescription, and determine the appropriate dose of the medicine.
Limitations on emergency supplies
It’s important to note that there are limitations on the emergency supply of certain medications. For prescription-only medicines, the pharmacist may provide an emergency supply of up to 30 days’ treatment, with exceptions for insulin, ointments, creams, asthma inhalers, contraceptive pills, and liquid oral antibiotics. Typically the smallest pack size will be supplied. Controlled drugs, such as morphine or diamorphine, generally require a prescription and cannot be supplied without one in an emergency.
In some cases, you may need to pay for the emergency supply and service e.g. emergency contraception, even if you don’t normally have to, as they are being provided without a prescription. The specific costs may vary between pharmacies, so it’s advisable to inquire about this beforehand.
Obtaining non-prescription medicines
If you need a non-prescription medicine, such as paracetamol or an antacid, and are unable to find an open pharmacy, there are alternative places where you may find a basic range of over-the-counter medicines:
- Petrol stations
These establishments often have longer opening hours than high-street pharmacies, making it more convenient to access the non-prescription medication you require.
By being aware of these options and resources, you can ensure that you are prepared to handle emergencies and obtain the necessary medication promptly. Remember to always consult with healthcare professionals and follow their guidance to ensure your health and well-being.
NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information in this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.
The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.
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