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how to transfer a prescription to another pharmacy?
Pharmacy insights

Can I transfer my prescription to any pharmacy?

Tody’s post summarises prescription transfer between pharmacies. After reading this post you will know how to transfer a prescription from one to another pharmacy. This article brings similar concepts to another post – How to change a nominated pharmacy, which I encourage you to read.


Transfer of prescriptions between pharmacies can be done easily thanks to Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) which became a default method of prescription transfer between a GP surgery and nominated pharmacy (pharmacy of your choice).


EPS allows to send a prescription electronically (with the use of the Internet) between GP surgery and pharmacy. This process is almost instantaneous. Here is an example of one such transfer:



There are a couple of situations where a prescription transfer is not possible, so please read this post to find out more. The following will be discussed:

  • transfer of ‘paper’ prescriptions (less common process)
  • transfer of an electronic prescription (EPS)
  • transfer of partly dispensed prescripions

Prescription transfer: ‘old’ non-electronic prescriptions

Although slowly becoming an obsolete process, patients may still be given a paper prescription. GPs provide usually a ‘green’ coloured prescriptions. Paper prescriptions may still be issued by ‘out of hours’ doctors, or some doctors. Having a paper prescription in hand allows you to go and get your medication from any pharmacy.

If a ‘paper’ prescription is already physically present in one pharmacy, one needs to collect it and take it elsewhere if they wish the prescription to be proceeded by another pharmacy.

Some patients get confused when the name of the pharmacy is present in top left corner of the prescription form. Any computer-generated prescription which lists pharmacy name in top left corner of the prescription indicates pharmacy nomination, meaning your choice of the pharmacy to process your prescriptions. Presence of a nominated pharmacy does not stop you from getting prescribed medicine dispensed elsewhere. Simply take the prescription to any pharmacy you like.

How does the nomination happen?

Normally for nomination to happen, you need to give consent to a pharmacy or ask your surgery to forward your prescription to a specific pharmacy for processing. In practice, some pharmacies nominate patients without asking patients or explaining the process, for example when one brings a prescription for the first time to the pharmacy. This is a poor practice which is not allowed. Read more about how a nominated pharmacy can be changed in a separate post.

Prescription transfer: How to transfer an electronic prescription to any pharmacy? 

Scenario 1: EPS token is given during a consultation with a GP

As I mentioned already, electronic prescriptions became a dominant method of prescription transfer in the UK, although there is a small number of GP surgeries which do not use this system. An electronic prescription may be produced when patients order their medication online, by email or when a repeat prescription form is dropped in the surgery.

An electronic prescription token can be given to patients after a consultation with a GP has taken place. A patient can then take an electronic prescription token to any pharmacy they wish.

Scenario 2: EPS token sent to one pharmacy, a patient wants to collect medication from another pharmacy

There may be a number of reasons why patients may decide to transfer a prescription to another pharmacy, a common reasons include out of stock medication or a pharmacy no being convenient to get to.

Patients who had their EPS prescription sent to one pharmacy (perhaps a nominated pharmacy) need to contact the pharmacy to which the prescription was sent to in order to transfer a prescription to another pharmacy.

Patients need to ask the pharmacy team to ‘release the prescription to the spine‘. Once this is done, any pharmacy will be able to download the prescription from the NHS ‘spine’. Once released, an electronic prescription is available almost immediately.

There is no need to collect an EPS token to get prescription dispensed in a new pharmacy. Having an EPS token ‘on hand’ however, may be useful when visiting a new pharmacy.

Patients can walk into the pharmacy of their choice and ask the pharmacy team to ‘track’ it or simply say ‘I have an EPS prescription which seats on the spine.‘ Patients who have never been to a selected pharmacy before will need to provide some personal information so that the pharmacy team can track the prescription.

A patient can give an NHS number or if the NHS number is unknown the following details will be needed:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date of birth

Transfer of EPS prescriptions: most common problems

EPS prescription not released to the ‘spine’

This is a common situation when one pharmacy do not release the prescription to the spine when requested. If this happens, patient or pharmacy need to contact the pharmacy which holds the prescription and ask for the prescription to be ‘release to the spine’.

EPS prescription sent to a wrong pharmacy

It is possible, but not common, for a GP surgery to send an EPS prescription to a wrong pharmacy. If this happens, again request needs to be made for a holding pharmacy to release prescription to the spine.

Partly dispensed prescriptions

Partly dispensed prescription (paper or electronic) can’t normally be taken away once supply was made and the patient left the pharmacy with one of the prescribed items.

Dispensed drugs are not returnable or reusable once they left the pharmacy, consequently, pharmacy needs to send prescription off to NHS for payment purposes. This rule applies to both ‘paper’ and EPS prescriptions.

As frustrating as it may be, the best option, in this case, is to contact your surgery and have the outstanding item prescribed again on separate prescription.

Choosing a nominated pharmacy

Patients always have a choice to change a pharmacy if they wish. When ordering your medication you can choose for your prescription to be send electronically to a pharmacy of your choice. This can be done by selecting pharmacy on the repeat part of your prescription, changing a nominated pharmacy online (website provided by GP surgery) over the phone or via NHS app. NHS app allows to access a range of services from a smartphone or tablet.



1. How to Transfer a Prescription to Another Pharmacy ( accessed on April 4, 2019.

2. 5 Things to Know Before Transferring Your Prescriptions to a New Pharmacy | ( accessed on April 4, 2019.

I am a community pharmacist working in UK. I blog about drugs, health and pharmacy.

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