GP practices that do not accept orders for repeat prescriptions from third parties should review this policy urgently, NHS England has instructed.
This may lead to community pharmacists being able to request the prescriptions instead.
It is based on circumstances where GPs expect to receive repeat prescriptions directly from patients, usually on paper repeat slips.
GPs are being told to evaluate these procedures because they may not support people in meeting the Government’s guidance on social distancing and isolation.
They also risk delaying shielded patients, at the highest risk of complications of coronavirus (Covid-19), from receiving their medicines.
NHS England’s new guidance and standard operating procedures to general practice read: ‘Some practices do not accept orders for repeat prescriptions from third parties, for example, from community pharmacies, digital apps, and expect to receive them directly from patients, usually on paper repeat slips.
‘Any practice following such a policy should review this urgently, as it may not support people to meet guidance on social distancing and isolation and may delay shielded patients from receiving their medicines.’
It also said: ‘The Government has been working with manufacturers and suppliers to ensure people can continue to access the medicines they need.
‘Practices should not be increasing repeat prescription durations at this time and should not be routinely authorising repeat prescriptions before they are due as this could create pressure on the medicines supply chain; consider the use of electronic repeat dispensing instead.’
In recent years, commissioners have told GPs to refuse repeat prescriptions ordered on behalf of patients by pharmacists, in a bid to cut down on medicines waste.
Earlier in the pandemic, NHS England advised GPs not to increase the duration of prescriptions in a bid to protect supply.