Repeat prescription phoneline is stopped

a PHONELINE service used by patients to order repeat prescriptions from a surgery in Belper has been axed.

The hotline at Riversdale Surgery has gone under guidance of the NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) and patients across the region will now have to use alternative methods to obtain their medication.

Patients will now have to go to the Bridge Street surgery to request repeat prescriptions. If that is not possible, they can obtain their medication via a dedicated repeat prescription email address, or through the surgery’s website.

Also, those who get their medication delivered can ask the pharmacy to take their repeat prescription for them. Relatives or friends can also drop the forms into the surgery.

But patient Neil Hallam, 66, of Belper, expressed concerns at the phoneline being axed. He only learned of the move when he phoned to order his latest repeat prescription.

He said he was worried for elderly people who were unable to get out of the house or did not have access to the internet.

Neil said: “A valuable service is being withdrawn, especially where the elderly are concerned.

“It will create a lot of problems for people.

“I owe a great deal to the surgery, they have been very good to me, but anything that forces them to diminish their level of care would surely not be welcomed by themselves, or by patients?”

But Linda Cross, practice manager at Riversdale, sought to allay concerns, insisting the primary reason for ending the phoneline service was patient safety.

She said: “It is about patient safety above anything else.

“Repeat prescriptions should come in a written way, such as email. It is a much safer system, although we appreciate it could cause problems for some people.” Mrs Cross pointed to the risk of human error when dealing with repeat prescriptions over the phone.

She said: “Someone could make a wrong note or a patient could ask for the wrong dosage. There is always room for human error.

“When you are dealing with prescriptions that have strong medication in them, you have to be careful.”

Mrs Cross insisted the surgery had simply followed PCT guidance and said: “It is not a money issue. It is very much a focus on patient care.”

She added: “Anything that improves patient safety has to be a good thing.”

The repeat prescription phoneline at the Whitemoor Medical Centre, in Belper, is still in use.