In Pulse today, it’s been announced that compulsory 28-day prescribing is wasteful. Thanks guys, I’ve known that for years.
Unless you have a condition that is relatively simple to treat, with just a couple of drugs, prescribing every 28 days simply doesn’t work. In fact, it can’t be 100% effective even then, as tablets can be dropped and lost, and some which have to be taken whole can arrive broken, thanks to dismal quality control in the generic drug market (I had a batch of my heart drug, Candesartan, that was actually so far below the declared strength I had to double the dose).
I have 16 drugs, 4 of which I could order every 28 days with no problems, but subject to the above caveat (it took me years to convince my GP that having 28 tablets didn’t automatically mean I’d take 28), because the dose is fixed. The consumption of the rest of them varies considerably, and depends entirely on how ill I am.
It follows, then, that much of the time, if I were forced to submit a repeat request every 28 days, I would be doing so when some drugs weren’t actually needed, and eventually I’d wind up with quite a stockpile of one or two (this could be potentially dangerous for some people with mental health problems).
I’ve faxed my repeat list for decades now, ordering drugs when needed, and not before. A few years ago, they insisted that I use the online system. This used third-party software, cobbled up by a company with zero idea of a patients’ needs, or that fact that many would find such a process entirely alien, but there was no attempt made to make it user-friendly for the less computer-savvy.
So I set up my account, and ordered everything (regardless of what I currently had in stock). 28 days later, tried to log in again; it didn’t recognise me. Now I’ve been online for about 15 years, and a computer user for 20, I don’t forget login details. If they’re complex (as this was (needlessly so, my NHS and/or NI numbers would have got the job done), they’re copied and pasted to a Word document (thus eliminating typing errors), as was the case here, so I knew they were correct. Still wouldn’t let me in.
There was a total absence of the usual Forgotten your password? link, just a note to contact the surgery – yeah, like that’ll help. I shut it down, never went back, and reverted to fax, which I still use. On average, I have re-order every 7 to 10 days.
It does make life more complicated than just ordering everything every 4 weeks whether I need it or not which, of course, I could still do by fax (but not unless forced), and occasionally I do run out, but I haven’t done that for a while, as I now lay out the unused boxes where I can see them, rather than stash them out of sight, so I have a visual check when I’m getting low. I’ve also set up reminders in Outlook, and ensured I have a reserve supply of those drugs I mustn’t be without.
It makes a little more work for all concerned, including me, but it ensures I get only what I need only when I need it, no surplus, no waste, and no crisis caused by inadvertently running out, because I’ve dropped a couple of tabs in the kitchen sink, or on the floor, where they’ve rolled irretrievably under the fridge. Or they’ve pinged out of their blister** and bounced off to oblivion.
And now I have proof I’m doing it right. Though to be fair, the primary concern was the rise in dispensing fees, with wastage coming second.
**Talking of which, what genius thought blister-packed tablets and capsules were ever a good idea? Not only are cuts from the foil a regular occurrence, the amount of waste generated is colossal – a carrier-bag full every 3 weeks or so. It’s absurd. Extrapolated across the country it’s an obscene amount of un-recyclable junk. And, of course, it jacks up the price of the drugs, too.