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How does an NHS online pharmacy work?

How does an NHS online pharmacy work?

Navin Khosla NowPatientGreen tick
Updated on 24 May 2024

In recent years, the convenience and accessibility of online services have revolutionized various industries, including healthcare. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has embraced this digital transformation and now offers online pharmacy services to make it easier for patients to access medications and healthcare advice. This article will explore how NHS online pharmacies work and also focus on how NowPatient works and the benefits they provide to patients.

What are NHS online pharmacies?

Online pharmacies have gained tremendous popularity in recent years, thanks to the convenience and cost-effectiveness they offer. The concept of online pharmacies has been around for more than two decades and has witnessed significant growth globally. In 2008, an estimated 2986 online pharmacies were operating worldwide, and this number has continued to rise since then

NHS online pharmacies, also known as internet pharmacies or e-pharmacies, are digital platforms that allow patients to order prescription medications, and buy medicines such as over-the-counter products online plus other healthcare products These pharmacies are regulated by the NHS and operate in compliance with strict standards and guidelines to ensure patient safety and confidentiality.

Online pharmacies have become increasingly popular due to their convenience and accessibility. Patients can order their repeat medications from the comfort of their homes and have them delivered directly to their doorstep. This eliminates the need for physical visits to traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies, saving time and effort.

How do NHS online pharmacies operate?

Registration and verification process

To use an NHS online pharmacy, patients are typically required to create an account and register on the platform. During the registration process, patients need to provide personal details, including their name, address, contact information, and NHS number. This information is used to verify the patient’s identity and ensure that they are eligible for NHS services.

Ordering medications

Once registered, patients can browse the online pharmacy’s website or mobile app to select the medications they need. The platform usually provides detailed information about each medication, including its uses, dosage instructions, and possible side effects. Patients can add the desired medications to their virtual shopping cart and proceed to the checkout process.

Prescription requirements

In most cases, patients will need a valid prescription from a healthcare professional to order prescription medications online. This means you’ll either need a paper prescription or an electronic prescription via the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) from a GP surgery or another healthcare professional.

Delivery options

NHS online pharmacies offer various delivery options to accommodate patients’ preferences. Standard delivery is usually free of charge, but patients may also have the option to choose express or next-day delivery for an additional fee. The online pharmacy will package the medications securely and dispatch them through a reliable courier service.

Medication tracking

Once the medications are dispatched, patients can track the progress of their delivery through the online pharmacy’s website or app. This allows patients to stay informed about the estimated delivery date and make necessary arrangements to ensure someone is available to receive the package.

Repeat prescriptions

For patients with chronic conditions requiring long-term medication, NHS online pharmacies offer the convenience of repeat prescription services. Patients can request a repeat prescription through the platform, and the pharmacy will process the request, ensuring a continuous supply of medication.

What is NowPatient?

Telehealth and Online Pharmacy

NowPatient is a licensed online pharmacy and online doctor consultation service that is available around the world. Our service is free and packed with valuable features that can benefit your health, such as medication reminders, medically approved symptoms checker, a UK NHS online pharmacy, private treatment plans, Rx Advantage card, health conditions information, genetic testing, home test kits, health risks, pollen meter and air quality monitor.

For UK users, our online pharmacy is integrated with the NHS allowing you to manage and order your NHS prescriptions easily. Our private doctor consultation service allows users to get treated privately for a large range of conditions such as weight loss, hair loss, and erectile dysfunction. All prescriptions are delivered free of charge across England & Wales.

How does NowPatient work?

  • Download the NowPatient app or use your web browser to create an account using your email or NHS login securely
  • NowPatient connects your NHS prescription records and retrieves your available prescriptions
  • When you place an order your doctor will be notified to approve your prescription
  • As soon as your doctor approves your prescription. Our pharmacists will dispense your prescription

Benefits of using NHS online pharmacies

Convenience and accessibility

One of the significant advantages of NHS online pharmacies is the convenience they offer. Patients can order their medications anytime, anywhere, using their computer or mobile device. This eliminates the need for physical visits to a high street pharmacy, especially for individuals with mobility issues or those living in remote areas.


Using an NHS online pharmacy can save patients valuable time. Instead of waiting in long queues at a traditional pharmacy, patients can complete their medication orders with a few clicks. Additionally, the delivery service saves time by bringing the medications directly to the patient’s doorstep.


Some patients may feel uncomfortable discussing their medical conditions or medications in person. NHS online pharmacies provide a discreet and confidential platform for patients to order their medications without disclosing personal information to pharmacy staff or other customers.

Wide range of medications

NHS online pharmacies offer a wide range of medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, and healthcare supplies. Patients can easily find and order the medications they need without the limitations of physical stock availability in a traditional pharmacy.


Online pharmacies often offer competitive prices for medications due to reduced overhead costs compared to brick-and-mortar pharmacies. Patients may also find discounts, special offers, or bulk purchase options, leading to potential cost savings.

How to use NHS online pharmacies effectively

Research and choose a reputable pharmacy

When using an NHS online pharmacy, it is essential to research and choose a reputable and trustworthy platform. Look for pharmacies that are registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and display the GPhC logo on their website. Reading customer reviews and checking for secure payment options can help ensure a positive experience.

Ensure medication safety

Before ordering medications online, it is crucial to ensure their safety. Only order from pharmacies that require a valid prescription for prescription drugs. Check for proper packaging, expiration dates, and tamper-evident seals on the received medications. If there are any concerns or doubts, consult a healthcare professional for guidance.

Follow dosage instructions

Always follow the dosage instructions provided with the medications. If there are any questions or uncertainties about the prescribed dosage, consult a healthcare professional before starting the medication. It is crucial to take medications as prescribed to ensure their effectiveness and minimize the risk of adverse effects.

Utilise additional services

NHS online pharmacies may offer additional services to enhance the overall healthcare experience. These services may include online consultations with healthcare professionals, medication adherence reminders, and personalized health advice. Take advantage of these services to optimize your treatment and well-being.


NHS online pharmacies like NowPatient provide a convenient and accessible way for patients to order medications and healthcare products online. With their user-friendly platforms and reliable delivery services, these digital pharmacies offer numerous benefits, including convenience, time-saving, confidentiality, and cost-effectiveness. By utilising the services effectively and following the necessary precautions, patients can make the most of NHS online pharmacies and enhance their healthcare experience.


Medical Disclaimer

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 on 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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Telehealth and Online Pharmacy

NowPatient is a licensed online pharmacy and doctor service that is available around the world. Our service is FREE and packed with valuable features that can benefit your health such as medication reminders, educational blogs, medically approved symptoms checker, UK NHS online pharmacyprivate treatment plansRx Advantage cardhealth conditions information, affordable medications options, genetic testinghome test kitshealth riskspollen meterair quality monitor, weight loss plans, drug savings programs and lots more!

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