How To Get Emergency Prescription
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How To Get Emergency Prescription [Answered]

Prescriptions are necessary for a particular medicine. But how can you get the prescription on an emergency basis? Know more from the blog.

August 02, 2019
Post Highlights

Requests for an emergency supply of medication or an emergency prescription are not uncommon in a community pharmacy. Some of the common reasons for patients to request an emergency supply of drugs are:

  • Patients being away from home and forgetting to take their medication
  • Patients being away from home and losing their medication
  • Patients ran out of medicines and were unable to get their drugs from their regular doctor

Patients who require medication urgently and cannot obtain a prescription immediately have few options for obtaining necessary drugs. In this post, I will talk about the following:

  • Getting an emergency prescription
  • Getting an emergency supply of medication from a pharmacy
  • Alternative options for an emergency supply of medication

How To Get An Emergency Prescription?

An emergency prescription can be obtained from a community pharmacy in the U.K. called Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS).

This service was created to reduce the burden on urgent and emergency care services such as walk-in and out-of-hour centres.

CPCS service was launched in September 2019, replacing the NUMSAS service (pilot scheme) and, at the same time, extended to all community pharmacies in the U.K.

The EPAP helps people who don't have health insurance get prescription drugs, medical supplies, and vaccinations.
Emergency medication supply is the supply of medicines by the pharmacy without a prescription.
Patients can call 111 to get an emergency prescription. In the U.K., a community pharmacy can issue an emergency prescription once a referral is made by NHS 111.
Patients who run out of their medication can obtain an emergency prescription from a pharmacy once a referral is made by NHS 111. Alternatively, patients can request an emergency supply of drugs from any pharmacy.
An emergency supply of medication is the supply of drugs without a prescription. Pharmacists in the U.K. can supply medicines on an emergency basis providing specific legal requirements are met.
Patients who run out of medication and cannot obtain a prescription from their regular doctor can call NHS 111 service to get an emergency referral to a community pharmacy. Alternatively, a request for an emergency supply of medication can be made in any community pharmacy.

Emergency Prescription: Requirements

Patients who require urgent medication previously prescribed by a G.P. may be supplied with the medication needed after a referral from NHS 111 service is made to a pharmacy. Patients who wish to get an emergency prescription must call NHS 111 service and explain the situation.

As a part of this service, a pharmacy team needs to contact the patient once a referral is made by NHS 111. When possible, I recommend getting a pharmacy over the phone instead of waiting for the phone call after contacting NHS 111. A pharmacist continuously assesses the immediate need for medication after initial contact.

An emergency prescription can be produced only after calling NHS 111 service and consulting with a pharmacist at their professional discretion. Patients cannot request an emergency prescription directly to a pharmacy under this scheme.

Can I Get An Emergency Prescription For A Controlled Drug?

Patients cannot request an emergency supply for controlled drugs schedule 2 or 3, such as Morphine, Gabapentin, Pregabalin, or Tramadol. It is possible to receive an emergency supply for a control drugs schedule 4 (Diazepam / Zopiclone) and schedule 5 controlled drugs, for instance, Codeine-based drugs.

Please note that NHS 111 operators may not know if medication is a controlled drug, and even if a referral is made for an emergency prescription, a controlled drug schedule 2 or 3 would not be supplied to a patient. In practice, another commonly seen request for an emergency prescription under this scheme is antibiotics. Again patients will not be able to get an emergency supply for treatment of acute conditions with antibiotics under this scheme.

An Emergency Prescription: Access To Medication History

During the assessment by a pharmacist, patients are usually asked to consent to access their Summary Care Records (SCR). This NHS service shows the history of their regular medications prescribed by their G.P.

How Many Days Of Medication Supply Can I Get On An Emergency Prescription?

Patients are usually supplied with a small quantity of medication to cover a few days until a new prescription can be obtained from their regular G.P. However, a supply can be made to cover up to 30 days of treatment for non-CD drugs and 5 days for CD drugs (schedules 4 and 5).

Emergency Prescription: Do I Have To Pay?

One of the advantages of getting an emergency prescription with CPCS is that usual prescription exemptions apply when a supply is made. Patients sign and select their exemption status or pay NHS prescription fees when medication is collected.

An Emergency Supply Of Medication

Alternatively, in an emergency, the pharmacist can legally make a supply of prescription-only medication without a prescription. Providing specific requirements are met, patients can request a supply of medicines on an emergency basis.

Patients are usually charged for an emergency supply of medication, regardless of their exemption status or age. Similar to private prescription charges, patients pay for an emergency supply of drugs as there is no prescription to cover the medication cost.

Specific legal requirements must be met for patients to get an emergency supply of medication from the pharmacy. These are (BNF, N.D.):

  • A pharmacist must interview a patient requesting a supply of prescription-only medication
  • The patient is in immediate need of medicine, and it is unfeasible to obtain a prescription for this medication.
  • The dose of the medicine is known.
  • The patient was previously treated with requested medication by U.K. or E.U. doctor.
  • Requested cannot be made for a controlled drug in Schedule 1,2 or 3 (see exception below).

The only exception is the supply of a controlled drug on an emergency basis is the supply of Phenobarbital/Phenobarbital sodium for patients who use this medication for treating epilepsy. In an emergency supply situation, a pharmacist should consider the individual circumstances of the request and use their professional judgment to determine whether a supply is made.

Pharmacists should consider the patient's best interests. However, pharmacists should not be pressured into making an emergency supply by anyone (for example patient demands a store).

How Many Days Of Medication Supply Can I Get On An Emergency Basis?

When a request is made for an emergency supply of medication in the pharmacy, patients can supply the drug(s) to cover up to 30 days of treatment and for CD drugs (schedule 4 and 5) up to 5 days of the treatment.

An Emergency Supply Of Medication: Evidence Of Treatment

Do you need to bring evidence of treatment with medication for which an emergency supply is requested? A pharmacist must be satisfied that a patient requesting a supply of drugs has been previously treated with this medication. Bringing an empty box or repeat slip to the pharmacy when the request may help a pharmacist decide if an emergency supply is appropriate.

Additionally, if no evidence is present, the pharmacist may request to access the patient's Summary Care Records (SCR). SCR is an NHS electronic record of patient information, including drug history, created from G.P. medical records.

Do I Have To Pay For The Emergency Supply In The Pharmacy?

Regardless of your age or exemption status, you will most likely be asked to pay for this service unless other arrangements can be made; for example, a pharmacy will likely receive a prescription to cover the medication supplied. Patients need to cover the medication cost plus any emergency supply charges that the pharmacy may have.

The cost of common drugs may be minimal, and the total cost will also depend on the number of treatment days. Most pharmacies have a minimum charge for the supply of medicines when an emergency supply is given out.

Tesco Pharmacy has one of the lowest minimum charges for private prescriptions and supply of drugs in an emergency. Some items, such as inhalers (excluding Salbutamol/Ventolin inhaler), for example, Fostair inhaler or insulins, can be expensive; therefore, the use of CPCS service (the first part of this post) would be more suitable as patients can use their exemption when supply is made.

An Emergency Supply Of Medication: Alternative Options

Electronic Prescription Service (EPS)

Patients who urgently require a supply of medication (for example, same day) can contact their regular G.P. surgery.

In the U.K., prescriptions are transferred using Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). EPS allows the transfer of medications from a G.P. surgery to almost any pharmacy in the U.K.

Patients who need an urgent supply of medication can contact their regular G.P. surgery (during opening hours) and ask to issue an EPS prescription, which can be sent to any pharmacy.

Walk-In Centres

Patients who require an emergency prescription can use a walk-in centre to obtain a pill as a last resort. This option may be suitable for patients who require an emergency supply of controlled drugs. Visit the NHS website to find a walk-in centre close to your location.

How Can I Find A Late-Night Pharmacy?

Visit NHS search to find a late-night pharmacy.

  • Morecroft, C.W., Mackridge, A.J., Stokes, E.C., Gray, N.J., Wilson, S.E., Ashcroft, D.M., Mensah, N. and Pickup, G.B., 2015. Emergency supply of prescription-only medicines to patients by community pharmacists: a mixed methods evaluation incorporating patient, pharmacist and G.P. perspectives. BMJ open5(7), p.e006934. Available at: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/7/e006934.short. Accessed on 20/05/2019
  • Butler, M.M., Ancona, R.M., Beauchamp, G.A., Yamin, C.K., Winstanley, E.L., Hart, K.W., Ruffner, A.H., Ryan, S.W., Ryan, R.J., Lindsell, C.J. and Lyons, M.S., 2016. Emergency department prescription opioids as an initial exposure preceding addiction. Annals of emergency medicine68(2), pp.202-208. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019606441501567X. Accessed on 01/08/2019