Wales moves to longer standard prescribing cycles to 'free capacity'
From April this year, GPs in Wales are being asked to move to a 56-day prescribing cycle for suitable patients to help “release capacity” for practices and community pharmacies.
In a guidance document published last Tuesday (February 8), Community Pharmacy Wales and the Welsh General Practice Committee recommended that the standard prescription cycle be increased from 28 days to 56 to allow GPs and pharmacies to focus more on services, and to reduce the number of trips patients have to make to their pharmacy or doctor.
This follows a Government report last year looking at dispensing volumes in pharmacies that found Wales was “behind other countries” in moving to extended prescribing intervals, and that there was only “limited” evidence to uphold the claim that 28-day prescribing helps reduce medicine waste.
The longer prescribing cycle will not be suitable for all patients, says the guidance, citing patients using a compliance aid, those taking controlled drugs and those who need frequent monitoring as examples where 28-day prescribing should remain in place.
GP practices and community pharmacies have been asked to agree local processes to implement the new practice, taking particular care to identify those patients who should be excluded from the move.
The guidance suggests that patients could be switched at their annual medication review, or moved over in batches within a set timeframe.
CPW and GPC Wales commented: “Currently patients in Wales have to make more trips to pharmacies, GPs have to write more prescriptions and pharmacies have to dispense more prescriptions than elsewhere in the UK.
“A change to dispensing intervals would be valuable in releasing capacity for both GP practices and community pharmacies.”
The Welsh Government’s dispensing volumes review also proposed changes to reduce the dispensing of non-medical products such as dressings and appliances “where community pharmacy provides no added value or efficiency”.
These changes “will be picked up later in 2022,” said last week’s briefing.