Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) struggling due to staff shortages – there are alternatives

Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) struggling due to staff shortages – there are alternatives

There are quite a lot of ways of ordering repeat prescriptions. Many people use the national system of ordering through Prescription Ordering Direct (POD). The service has been struggling with staff shortages and a couple of times over the last week I have had enquiries from Ludlow residents complaining that they cannot get through on the phone. My advice on this has been to ring your pharmacist. They will be able to order repeat prescriptions for you in an emergency if needed.

Our local GPs don’t take repeat prescriptions over the phone as this can lead to errors. It also ties up the phone lines and reception staff who need to prioritise urgent appointments and steer patients towards the most effective help. This article covers some of the ways you can order your prescription.

First, the current problems. Yesterday, the Clinical Commissioning Group for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin issued a warning that POD was struggling with staff shortages. It gave no explanation of why these shortages are occurring.

There are several ways to order repeat prescriptions.

I use Patient Access which gives broader advice on health as well as allowing me to order repeat prescriptions with a few clicks. You will need to ask your GP practice to give you access to this. But once set up it is straightforward.

You can also use the NHS App in a similar way and this app is also acts as a vaccine passport. Note that this is separate app from the NHS Covid app, which is the one that was used to scan into venues and still pings you if you have been near someone who tests positive. You can find the “NHS App” in Play Store or App Store on your smart phone.

If you can’t get through to Prescription Ordering Direct on the phone, which is pretty much the case at the moment, you can email your prescription request to shropshire.pod@nhs.net for Shropshire and tw.pod@nhs.net for Telford and Wrekin.  

For non-urgent repeat prescriptions you can drop off, or get someone else to drop off, your paper repeat prescription at your surgery.

Portcullis offers an email prescription ordering service through portcullis.surgery@nhs.net. Station Drive at admin.stationdrive@nhs.net.

All this takes time. You should allow three to five days for a repeat prescription. That means ordering early. But sometimes you need medication urgently.

If you need a repeat medication urgently, please do not ring the GP surgery unless there is no other option. Call your usual pharmacy who can arrange an urgent repeat, or if there is no other choice, call the surgery in the afternoon when they are less busy.

As an example, my branded medication recently became unavailable on the NHS. Boots pharmacy sorted out a generic replacement within a couple of days. And it probably costs a lot less than the branded version and that is a bonus.

All the pharmacies in Ludlow offer repeat prescription services. The pharmacists also offer advice on medication and health conditions.

Our GP practices are hardworking, as we have seen during the pandemic. Their phone lines are busy with more urgent matters so please try and help them by reducing the burden of repeat prescriptions.

And remember that your pharmacist is often able to offer advice on non-urgent conditions.

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