NHS offers digital pharmacy app for patients

New functionality has been added to the NHS app allowing patients across England to use it and to choose a pharmacy to have their repeat prescriptions sent to directly.

The move means patients can nominate a pharmacy no matter which IT system their GP surgery uses and without having to leave home. It is likely to be particularly welcomed by people self-isolating and socially distancing during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

It is one of several digital tools being promoted on the NHS website through a guide to accessing NHS services online.

The site provides:

  • Guidance to people on how to contact their GP.
  • Order repeat prescriptions
  • Manage long-term conditions.
  • Maintain physical and mental well-being.

Having a nominated pharmacy, something people could already do in their GP surgeries, pharmacies or via some online services, it means patients do not have to visit a GP surgery to collect their repeat prescription slip.

Instead, repeat prescriptions, which can already be ordered using the NHS app, will be processed by a patient’s GP then automatically sent directly to their chosen pharmacy, allowing them to pick up the medicine or have it delivered.

Users can choose from all community high street pharmacies or nominate an online-only pharmacy. In the initial phase of this functionality being live, those choosing an online-only option will be automatically directed to the online pharmacy’s website to complete their registration.

The NHS app is available to download from app stores on all Apple and Android phones and tablets and is available to all patients across England. It is one of a number of patient-facing apps available and is connected to all GP surgeries.

If a patient has repeat medication, once they register for the app they will find it listed in their repeat prescriptions tab and can re-order their medications in seconds whenever they need to.

In addition to the new functionality, the app also provides direct access to 111 online and the NHS website COVID-19 advice pages, both available without needing to register or log in.

Polly Bishop, director of digital experience at NHSX suggested that: ‘Making it as easy as possible for people to nominate a pharmacy is more important than ever during this pandemic, everything we do to enable people to stay at home contributes to helping the NHS and saving lives.

‘The NHS app is just one way of people setting their nominated pharmacy, people can continue to do so in pharmacies or use other online services already offering this functionality if they choose.

Bishop concluded that: ‘We have introduced this function to ensure that all patients have the opportunity to make use of it regardless of what other IT systems their GP surgeries use.’

Mohammed Hussain, a practising pharmacist and a senior clinical lead at NHS digital, noted that: ‘Pharmacists will welcome this step, making it easier for people to nominate their chosen pharmacy without having to leave home.

‘This functionality going live in the app makes it possible for people to complete the whole process themselves, as it uses their NHS login details for authorisation, meaning no admin is necessary at the pharmacist’s end.’


Image credit: Freepik