What is a repeat prescription?

16 Nov 2022
Stefano Mirabello
Stefano Mirabello
Medical Writer
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When you have first prescribed a medication for a long-term, your doctor takes the time to explain the condition, its course, and the best treatment. Often your doctor will not explain how to continue taking that medication when your supply finishes. For that, you need a repeat prescription or repeat medication. When you first start the process of repeat prescriptions it can seem complicated, particularly when you start taking multiple medications. Here is a quick guide to how to order a repeat prescription and to answer other questions you may have.

What are NHS Repeat Prescriptions?

Repeat NHS prescriptions are used when your doctor wants to prescribe medicine that needs to be taken regularly. This is usually done after you’ve been monitored for potential side effects. While one-off “acute” prescriptions are employed for conditions that should clear up after treatment (such as antibiotics for an infection), repeat prescriptions are typically used for long-term conditions that require ongoing management such as diabetes, COPD and high blood pressure.

Repeat prescriptions differ from acute prescriptions in that, after your GP has first prescribed your medicines, you can request future instalments of medication without having to attend an appointment in person.

Are repeat prescriptions free?

Are repeat prescriptions free?

It depends. Free entitlement to NHS prescriptions applies to some groups of people:

  • 60 years or older or is under 16 years of age
  • 16, 17 or 18 years of age and in full-time education
  • Maternity exemption certificate
  • Medical exemption certificate
  • Prescription prepayment certificate
  • Prescription exemption certificate issued by Ministry of Defence
  • HC2 (full help) certificate
  • Income support or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Tax Credit exemption certificate
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (including partners)
  • Universal Credit and meets the criteria

If you pay for your prescriptions and are prescribed medication regularly, then a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) could save you money in the long term. As of January 2022, the current prescription charge is £9.35 per item.

Some items that are free on the NHS to everyone are contraceptives and the fitting of contraceptive devices regardless of age. Always speak to your prescriber for more information if you are unsure.

If the prescription has three different items you need to pay three prescription charges. If the prescription has 2 items that are the same but with different strengths (e.g. sertraline 50mg and sertraline 100mg) then just one charge applies.

You can check out the full eligibility criteria at Who can get free prescriptions – NHS (www.NHS.uk)

How do I order repeat prescriptions?

In general, there are 3 ways to order a repeat prescription from your GP surgery but individual surgeries will differ in how repeat prescription requests are processed.

Access your NHS account

By using an NHS app or the NHS website you can log into your account and request repeat prescriptions. You will be asked to choose a nominated pharmacy.

Contact your GP surgery

If online ordering is not an option for you then a medication request can be made by contacting your GP practice. Each GP practice has its system in place. This could be a dedicated prescription telephone line for example.

Using other online services or apps

Now Patient falls into this category. With Now Patient, it is a simple matter to order your NHS repeat prescriptions. Once you have downloaded the app and registered, your prescriptions will be automatically uploaded to the app.

All you then need to do is head to the “NHS Repeat Prescriptions” section in the app, tap the medicines you wish to order and then tell us where you want them delivered. The order will then be automatically sent to your GP for approval. Once approval is complete we will dispense and dispatch your items immediately.

GPs will often put you on electronic repeat dispensing if you will be on regular medication for say 6 months. This eliminates the need to re-order your repeat prescriptions from your GP surgery every time you run out. Your nominated pharmacy will fulfil your repeat dispensing of medications.

What is the NHS Electronic Prescription Service (EPS)?

The Electronic Prescription Service is an NHS system that allows GPs to send their prescriptions to the pharmacy of their choice. Practically, it means that you are no longer tied to the local pharmacy that your GP wants you to use. You can use any pharmacy to dispense your medicines including online ones like Now Patient. Paper prescriptions are not used so you don’t have to worry about losing your prescription and having to go back to the doctor to get a replacement.

What does a repeat prescription look like?

Your repeat prescription can come in one of two ways: an electronic or paper prescription. The most common way these days for a prescription to be issued is electronically by the Electronic Prescription Service as mentioned earlier. Paper prescriptions are infrequently seen unless you make a particular request.

In the rare event, a paper copy of your prescription is issued to you a green and white paper will be handed to you. The green portion of the paper is the actual prescription containing the details of your drug, the dosage and the amount prescribed. This part is taken to the pharmacy where it can be dispensed to you. The white slip of paper will be handed back to you at the pharmacy alongside your medication. This portion of the paper contains all the details of your repeat medications and you can use this to order your next repeat prescription without the need for a face-to-face appointment or an online consultation with your GP.

What are Medication Reviews?

When you are on repeat medications your GP surgery will request a review date to carry out a Medication Review. A healthcare professional at your GP practice or Medical Centre will want to see you in person before any more electronic repeat prescriptions are supplied to you. This review may involve an appointment with the practice pharmacist, practice nurse, doctor or healthcare assistant. The healthcare assistant may carry out blood tests or blood pressure and then pass you on for clinic review with the Practice Nurse. Review clinics for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and COPD are routinely carried out during surgeries.

It is important to attend to your reviews so any problems can be addressed and there is no disruption in getting your prescriptions.

Can I take my repeat prescription to any pharmacy?

The simple answer is yes. The NHS terms of service state that patients can use any pharmacy, however, you have the choice to nominate a pharmacy to dispense your repeat prescriptions.

What are the benefits of ordering my repeat prescriptions through the Now Patient App?

Take control of your healthcare

Order your prescriptions whenever and wherever you need to.

Save Time

No more time-consuming trips to the GP to get your prescriptions or to the high street to pick up your meds.

More convenience

Your medicines are delivered to the address of your choice. If you get 3 or more medicines and the package is too large to fit through the letterbox we will deliver using a courier service.

It’s entirely free

The service does not cost you a penny. Now Patient covers all delivery costs so you, and the NHS, pay nothing.

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