AFTER patients complained about long queues to collect prescriptions, Launceston Medical Centre has spoken out about why the practice isn’t using a quicker electronic service. 

In recent weeks, the Post has been contacted by users of the practice who have raised concerns over their experiences collecting prescriptions at the centre, and called for the practice to use the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). 

This would enable prescriptions to be sent electronically to any nominated pharmacy in the UK. And the GP would no longer need to sign prescriptions as this would all be done electronically. 

One resident said: “On collection of a repeat prescriptions requested well in advance for a certain day, you are often told that the pharmacy is ‘out of stock’ of an item, and one will have to call back in a day or two. 

“Queue waiting times at the pharmacy are far too long. On one occasion I was stood outside the pharmacy in freezing cold rain for 37 minutes.”

For some, the answer to these issues appears simple, the introduction of an Electronic Prescribing Service.

Despite uptake of this service in other areas, Launceston Medical Centre remains without the system, and this week the practice manager put the blame for this on its computer systems.

Around 60 per cent of practices in the UK have EPS at their disposal and it is already being used at other sites such as Callington, Gunnislake, and Tavistock. 

One resident who works as a volunteer hospital driver said: “As a volunteer hospital car driver I know speaking with patients that I take three or four times a week they are looking for a quicker service on their prescriptions. 

“EPS will provide a quicker delivery of prescriptions from the medical centre to each of the retail pharmacies of Tesco, Boots and Day Lewis in Launceston. Each of the pharmacies will be able to supply prescriptions to patients a lot quicker as the patients medication will be viewed on their computer screen. Rather, the staff having to manually input each patient’s item from the Green prescriptions which are only supplied on Tuesday and Thursday from the centre. 

“In Tesco’s case they could have over 400 prescriptions each time to input which can take another few days before the patient can pick up their medication, with some having to wait 7-10 days from date of ordering.” 

The Post contacted Launceston Medical Centre to look for answers as to why the practice is yet to introduce EPS. Practice manager, Andrew Yardley explained: “Several of our patients have requested we enable EPS at Launceston Medical Centre. This would enable prescriptions to be sent electronically to any nominated pharmacy in the UK. In addition, your GP would no longer need to sign prescriptions, instead this would all be done electronically. 

“At the moment, although we would like to enable EPS, unfortunately the technology is only available to patients to whom we don’t dispense. This means if enabled we would need to operate a part electronic / part paper-based system which we would like to avoid if possible. 

“Although we have been hopeful that our computer system would be updated to allow full use of EPS this has still not happened. We are regularly seeking updates from our supplier as to when EPS will be fully available for our patients. 

“Prescriptions are still collected daily from all Pharmacies (except for Tesco who we deliver prescriptions to on a Tuesday and Thursday). To help the situation please leave plenty of time between requesting and collection of medication and consider the days we deliver prescriptions to Tesco. 

“I am pleased to report that our dispensary is currently green status, which means we are up to date with the processing of prescriptions and therefore minimal delays will be seen.”