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September 1, 2022

PHARMACIES in Wales have to send drivers to GP surgeries to physically pick up prescriptions before they can make them up and dispense them.

My visit this morning to Superdrug was the third unsuccessful one this week. Bellevue Surgery in Newport was, they tell me, contacted by them requesting a prescription for me on my behalf on or around August 20 and it still has not been received by them on September 1 (the August bank holiday closure, apparently when surgeries were all closed, has slowed the system down)!

Surgeries and pharmacies then engage in a game of batting the ball backwards and forwards in a blame game but it is almost always the surgery staff who enjoy generally better working hours and terms and conditions who have not supplied them with the paper-based script but raising the issue with them authentically risks you being banned from the surgery for “confrontational” behaviour.

A man in front of me was waiting for a prescription which had, again, not arrived and pharmacy staff were reduced to having to promise to telephone him if they managed to get it that day as a driver would be going out later. What use is that to him if he has run out and is starting to suffer?

This is pigeon post in the digital age, reminiscent of old carriages and horses taking forty days to get a parcel from London to Holyhead.

There is a massive issue with prescriptions in terms of:

A, Who at the surgery is authorised to sign them (you can wait days for a doctor to. The Welsh NHS has actively and very enthusiastically expanded the powers of senior, older nurses at surgeries to free up GPs and given them prescribing powers so why aren’t they signing them?).

B, The reliance, still, on hard copies being collected by visiting pharmacy staff and physically returned to the pharmacy because Wales, unlike England, has no digital system.

The grim reality of a third class NHS service now is exemplified most STARTLINGLY in the woefully disconnected and hopelessly inefficient way pharmacists and surgeries talk to each other or, more accurately do not.

Huge paper mountains exist within the system because surprisingly little has been converted and modernised to properly take maximum advantage of smoother, cleaner and much more rational digital in-built systems which dispense with the need for paper, boost productivity and greatly increase the speed of delivery.

How I wish Dr Phil Hammond might have been in Superdrug this morning!

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