Surgery Update

Posted by: teresabuglass - Posted on:

To all our dispensing patients

** non-dispensing patients – please see last paragraph**

We have spent the last few weeks implementing some more changes in our dispensary. These changes are mostly around workflow and stock management. These changes have led to a delay in recent prescriptions, for which we apologise. The delays at the end of last week, and some further delays this week, is my fault, so please be respectful to our team. We will be putting some additional staff hours into dispensary this week, to catch up. The changes are needed to safeguard our dispensing service, and our wider financial strategy for the surgery.

Change in repeat prescription turnaround time.

We would like to request that patients, who are on regular repeat medication, re-order their monthly medication one full week before you run out of medication – we require at least 5 working days to prepare your medication. This increase in turnaround time is permanent, and effective immediately.

If you have made a medication request last week, please know that we are working hard to get this ready for you as soon as possible.

When we have completed your medication request, we will send you a text. If you have not received a text after 5 working days, please give us a call. If you do not have a mobile phone, do not worry – please just give us 5 full working days to get your medication ready.

Why do you ask for 5 days when I often get my text the day after I put my repeat medication request in?

Most patients have repeat medication that we can dispense very quickly, but this is not the case for everyone. Some medication is harder to source, so we need a few extra days. Some medications are expensive, so we tend not to keep these on our shelves as a default, but only order them in when required by a patient. Asking everyone for a full 5 days makes it easier for us, and our patients to manage.

What happens if I need my medication urgently?

We fully understand some unforeseen circumstances may happen, and that patients may sometimes need a quicker turnaround for their medication. We will always do our best to help you. If your request is urgent, please tell us. We simply ask that this is the exception, not the rule. We understand that there may be patients who are due their medication order this week, but will run out of their medication before 5 working days have passed. This is not issue, we will do our best to get your medication ready for you as soon as possible. However, from your next order, please ensure you give us 5 working days to prepare your medication.

Why have you implemented these changes?

In short, it is about physical space and funding. We need to be careful with the amount of stock we keep on our shelves. We do not have a lot of space, and we need some extra time to source some drugs, so we can maximise our dispensary funding, and also be careful on how we spend taxpayer money.

Dispensary funding is complicated. It is important to note that, for example, the drugs we purchased in January, is not reimbursed to us by NHS England until end April. Some medications are sourced cheaper from different wholesalers but may take a day or two longer to arrive with us once ordered.

It is true that on some drugs we can make a small profit. This happens when we purchase a drug at a certain price, but we get reimbursed by NHS England at a higher rate.  However, the opposite is also true – the rate of reimbursement for some drugs is much less than what we pay for the drug, which leads to a financial loss. We get a small dispensing fee per item we dispense, but our losses on drug purchases are not always covered by dispensing fees, plus the small profit we can make on other drugs.  It takes a lot of work by our dispensary staff to keep track of all the financial pitfalls, on top of preparing the medication requests…therefore, we are asking for more time from you.

How does Peacock Pharmacy support us?

When we struggle to source a particular drug for a particular patient, we send the prescription for that item to our colleagues at Peacock Pharmacy. As a pharmacy, they have access to a larger variety of wholesalers. Those items are dispensed at Peacock Pharmacy, and is then delivered back to the dispensary, for the patient to collect as usual from Elsenham Surgery. We can also use the delivery service that Peacock Pharmacy provides, to deliver to our dispensing patients.

Peacock Pharmacy is part of our Surgery Team – our staff have full access to Sherjeet Thiara, our Superintendent Pharmacist at Peacock Pharmacy, and his expertise, help and guidance is a fantastic resource for us, and our patients.

Why does the dispensary matter so much to us?

When given the time and space to slow things down in the dispensary, we can ensure that we run the dispensary profitably, so at the very least, our reimbursement and dispensing fees cover the cost of drugs, and the cost of staffing the dispensary. If we can run the dispensary at a profit, we can reinvest that profit into the services that the surgery as a whole provides. We are grateful to patients who have continued to use our dispensary. We love providing this service to patients.

Patients who have previously opted to not be dispensing, for whatever reason, are always welcome to become a dispensing patient again. Please just inform us, and we can make the required adjustment on your medical record. The opposite is also true – dispensing patients can opt to become non-dispensing patients, by using a pharmacy of their choice. However, we hope our patients understands the importance of our dispensary in terms of our wider surgery financial strategy, and stay with us as a dispensing patient.

What can patients do to help us?

Please give us 5 full working days as a minimum to get your medication ready. It is also really helpful for us if you order your medication via the NHS app, or via Patient Access. Alternatively, you can also use the Contact us online service via our website

Using these platforms saves a lot of staff hours, and reduces the risk of human error. We know these platforms does not suit everyone, and patients can still continue to order via their paper requests, or emails. We only allow telephone requests in very rare circumstances.

Whilst other surgeries have removed the function to be able to phone your dispensary, we do not want to do down this route. We like talking to our patients. We simply ask that you do not call us routinely to ask if your medication is ready – you will receive a text when it is.

What will happen to the Dispensary at Elsenham Surgery after the merger with Stansted Surgery?

Current dispensing patients will notice no change. It will be business as usual. There is a stipulation by the Integrated Care Board in our merger agreement that the merger can not equate to a larger dispensing population for the merged surgery – this means that patients who currently reside in Elsenham, but are registered with Stansted Surgery, cannot become a dispensing patient after the merger. However, any new patients who register with the newly merged surgery, and qualifies to be dispensing as per the historical dispensing catchment area for Elsenham Surgery, will automatically become dispensing.

What is the turn-around time for non-dispensing patients?

We will process your medication request within 3 WORKING DAYS. So – you need to order your medication with enough time to spare to allow us 3 working days, PLUS the timeframe needed by your chosen pharmacy to assemble your prescription – we suggest therefore that you order your medication in the same timeframe as our dispensing patients – at least 5 working days.

Thank you!

Many thanks to the volunteers who have been helping us in the dispensary – we value your time, and we are very grateful for your support.

Teresa Buglass, Practice Manager

Stansted and Elsenham Surgeries

On behalf of The Partners, Elsenham Surgery