Plea to cut back on demands for inhalers

By Mark Elson   |   Senior Reporter   |
Wednesday 25th March 2020 2:06 pm
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GP surgeries across the Forest say requests for inhalers from people who mistakenly believe they will help if they get coronavirus is causing chaos in the repeat prescription system.

The 11 surgeries are working closely together to prepare for Corvid-19 and say the repeat medication request system is being ‘abused’ and have issued a strong call for it to stop

A spokesperson for the surgeries said: “All surgery staff have been working flat out to prepare for Covid-19 and to continue delivering services to patients.

“Surgeries have experienced abuse of the repeat medication request system with patients continuing to request their medication early and ordering inhalers when they do not need them.

“There is no clinical evidence to suggest an inhaler will help if you catch the coronavirus.

“If you have not had an inhaler recently then you will not get one to keep ‘just in case’.

“Inhalers are for people who have a proper diagnosis of asthma or COPD only.

“At the end of last week we also saw a Facebook hoax relating to issuing ‘rescue packs’ to those with respiratory disease - please do not contact your surgery about this.

“Early and over ordering of repeat medication is our equivalent of the panic buying we have seen – it is causing chaos in our surgeries, local community pharmacies and extending the time it takes to process and make up prescriptions.

“There will be plenty of medication to go around - we urge patients to check their surgery website for information of any changes.

“For those who pay for their prescriptions, please consider purchasing a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) – this could help you save money if you have more than one prescribed medicine per month.

“See www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/ppc for more details and options on purchasing a certificate for three or 12 months.

“This will also reduce the contact you will need with surgery and local community pharmacy dispensing staff and you won’t need to worry about payment if your medicines are delivered to you as the situation develops.”

Surgeries are running emergency telephone consultations only and patients will be invited in if they need to be seen.

The spokeswoman said: “This is the agreed way forward in Gloucestershire for managing demand during this extraordinary time, patients are reminded to be respectful of the staff they are in contact with – staff are working within the parameters agreed at this stage.

Forest of Dean GPs continue to work with Gloucestershire CCG to establish emergency solutions to staff shortages and/or temporary surgery closures.”

She said those considered “extremely vulnerable” would receive a letter or text from the government about protecting themselves but they should not ring the surgery about it.

Those needing an isolation note for their employers can download them from www.111.nhs.uk/isolation-note - they will not be provided by the surgery.

Those who have symptoms of Corvid-19 or are self-isolating who turn up at surgeries will be asked to leave immediately.

The spokeswoman added: “Telephone lines and surgery staff are all incredibly busy – please be flexible with us, we are doing our very best to help you.

“The situation is changing rapidly – please always check your own surgery website or Facebook page if they have one for the latest information.

“We would also like to thank those patients who are supporting their local surgery and to the Forest of Dean communities pulling together to help the vulnerable.”

NHS message - page 7

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