On this page you will find information about prescriptions, whether you need a prescription and advice on looking after yourself.
What is a prescription?
A prescription is an instruction written by a medical professional (GP or prescribing nurse) to a pharmacist to prepare a particular medication for a patient. You will usually receive a prescription from your GP practice or from the hospital. A pharmacy will then prepare the medication for you based on the instructions in the prescription.
Although most NHS treatment is free for UK residents at the point of delivery, you may need to pay for prescriptions, depending on what treatment you need and your personal circumstances.
The current prescription charge is £8.20 per item.
Do I need a prescription?
Many people visit their GP for help with minor health problems that a local pharmacist could resolve. It’s estimated 50 million visits to the GP are made every year for minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema and athlete’s foot. Instead of booking and waiting for a GP appointment, you can visit your local pharmacist any time – just walk in.
Pharmacists can recognise many common health complaints. They can give advice or, where appropriate, medicines that will help clear up the problem. If your problem is more serious and needs the attention of a GP, your pharmacist will recognise this and advise you to see your GP instead. What’s more, many pharmacies are open in the evenings and on the weekends.
If everybody went to a pharmacist with common health problems, more time would be freed up for our GPs. This might make it easier to get a convenient appointment with your GP next time you need one. You can read more about how pharmacists can help with common illnesses here.
Where can I get my prescription dispensed?
There are several ways you can obtain your medicines when your GP gives you a prescription. These include a traditional community pharmacy, an online/internet pharmacy, a dispensing appliance contractor (for surgical appliances only – they cannot supply medicines) and in some cases, your own GP surgery may be able to dispense your medicines.
Whether you collect your prescription directly from your GP surgery or have it sent electronically to a pharmacy/supplier the decision about where you have your prescription dispensed is your choice.
No one should try to influence your decision or recommend a particular pharmacy. This includes your GP or surgery staff, the CCG, letters or flyers sent through the mail or another pharmacy. West Hampshire CCG does not endorse or recommend any particular supplier or pharmacy. If your prescriptions are sent electronically from the surgery you can direct them to a different pharmacy at any time by contacting your surgery.
Your supplier/pharmacy may offer to take over the ordering process for you meaning you do not have to contact the surgery to request a repeat prescription. This is not compulsory; you can continue to order your medicines directly from the doctor if you prefer and still use the pharmacy of your choice.
Additional Pharmacy Services
Some pharmacies offer additional services which may be useful to you. You can use a different pharmacy for these extra services and for dispensing if you choose to do so. Many of these services are provided free of charge under the NHS, however, some pharmacies may offer additional private services at a cost. NHS services include:
- The New Medicines Service (NMS) – If you’re prescribed a medicine to treat a long-term condition for the first time, you may be able to get extra help and advice about your medicine from your local pharmacist through this free scheme. The pharmacist will explain how to take the medicine, answer any questions you have and give you any information on side effects to look out for. They will follow this up with two appointments, which may be face to face or via the telephone, to see how you are getting on with the medicine.
- Medicine Use Reviews (MUR) – The pharmacist will go through each of your medicines with you. They can explain how to take the medicines to get the best effect, check any side effects and answer any questions you may have. They can also talk to your GP, with your permissions, about any problems you may be having with your medicines.
Remember all community pharmacists are available to answer questions about your medicines and for the treatment of minor ailments at any time.
Factors to consider when selecting the right dispenser (pharmacy or, if eligible, your own surgery) for you:
- Convenience – location, delivery options, opening hours, links with your surgery (particularly important if you prefer paper prescriptions and need the pharmacy to collect them from the surgery)
- Access – to the pharmacist if you have queries regarding your medicines
- Additional Services that may be useful to you
In some cases, your GP surgery may be able to supply your medicines. If your surgery offers a dispensing service you can only use it if you live more than 1.6km (0.99 miles) from your nearest pharmacy or you have a special difficulty in accessing a pharmacy.
If someone is trying to influence your decision on which pharmacy you would like to use you can contact NHS England in the following ways:
Call: 0300 311 22 33 Post: NHS England, PO Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PT
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (with ‘your prescription: your choice’ in the subject line)
You may also find useful:
- Learn how to Stay Well this winter
- Read about how you can order repeat prescriptions online
- Find out about getting help with prescription costs
- A full list of pharmacies in your area can be found on the NHS choices website
- A full list of registered internet pharmacies is available on this site
- A full list of registered appliance contractors is available here
- Read about our antibiotic guardian campaign
- See what to keep in your medicine cabinet at home