All posts by Nic Sevenoaks

Changes to ordering repeat prescriptions in Bucks

The way we order our repeat prescriptions for medicine in Buckinghamshire is changing.  From August onwards NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys your health services, is asking those patients who are able to do so, to order their repeat prescriptions directly from their GP practice – either online or in person.  This means that patients will be less likely to have unnecessary or out-of-date medicine in their homes, improving their own safety, and will also reduce costly medicine wastage.

People who may have problems doing this, for example those who are housebound who cannot order on line, or do not have a carer or representative that can order on their behalf, are exempt from this change; as are those using a Monitored Dosage System, patients who have a learning disability or those with dementia who do not have a carer or representative who can order on their behalf.

Dr Shona Lockie, Clinical Director for the Medicines Management team at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said “We believe that patients are actually best placed to know when they need more medication and that most will be happy to order directly from their GP, either using the online systems or by dropping off the completed returns slip to their practice. Whilst we understand that any change in routine takes time to become the norm, we know that many people are already using online services for their shopping or banking and they will like the convenience of ordering their repeat prescriptions online. We hope people will prefer to use this method, as it puts more control in the hands of patients – they can see full details of the medications they are using, whilst also being able to book appointments and view their medical record.

“So please help your local NHS by ordering only the medicines needed for the month ahead. It’s a good rule of thumb to put your order in when you are down to a ten-day supply – that way you are highly unlikely to run out before getting your next batch. We would like to thank all patients for their cooperation with this.

Provision has been made so that people unable to order from their GPs can continue to have their repeats ordered by their pharmacist; and pharmacists can dispense medicines in a genuine emergency for those who need it.  All of this is detailed in the letter and leaflet on the specially set up web page and is being circulated at practices and pharmacies.

If you already order repeat prescriptions from your GP, these changes won’t affect you. Also, all prescriptions ordered will continue to be sent to your pharmacy of choice. Patients can still have medication delivered to their home by their pharmacy, where these arrangements already exist.

Repeat prescriptions can be ordered online from a link on your GP practice’s website – but you will have to register for GP online services and your practice will probably ask you to provide identification in person.  It’s a good idea to check with them first what they will need to see.  Once you are registered it’s easy to order your repeat prescriptions and you can also access more of your practice’s online services such as making appointments and viewing your medical record (where these services are available).

If you prefer to order in person, you can complete the request slip on the right hand side of your paper prescription and hand this in to your practice.

More information can be found at

National Consultation – Over the Counter Medicines

Conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: A consultation on guidance for CCGs

NHS England has launched a public consultation on reducing prescribing of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for minor, short-term health concerns which could save the NHS £136 million a year and encourage more people to self care.

A list of 33 minor health concerns has been identified by a national joint clinical working group which are either self-limiting or suitable for self-care. Vitamins/minerals and probiotics have also been included as items of low clinical effectiveness which are of high cost to the NHS.

For more information and a link to the consultation itself, click here.

Please note the consultation will close on Wednesday 14 March 2018.


Alliance led by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust awarded the contract for new Thames Valley 111 Integrated Urgent Care Service ‘The new front door to urgent care’

Patients across the Thames Valley will be opening a new front door to urgent care services from September 2017.

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) has been awarded the contract for the new Thames Valley 111 telephone service by the 10 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the Thames Valley. SCAS leads an alliance set up to deliver the service, which also includes Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The alliance brings together the relevant skills and expertise from local NHS providers needed for patients to access a wide range of medical disciplines.

Thames Valley 111 will now offer patients a seamless 24/7 urgent clinical assessment and treatment service – bringing together NHS 111, GP out of hours and other clinical advice, such as dental, medicines and mental health.

A team of clinicians will be available on the phone when needed, and will be linked into a new NHS Clinical Hub – a group of healthcare professionals who can help get patients the right care, at the right time, in the right location.

A thorough and rigorous procurement process took place involving clinicians, specialists and NHS managers from across the Thames Valley in the decision-making.

The focus was on selecting a provider which will work across all CCGs to support the development of an integrated 24/7 care service on a local basis.

Sam Burrows, the senior responsible officer for the procurement process, said: “We are pleased to announce that the Thames Valley 111 Partnership, led by SCAS, has been awarded the contract. This is an exciting time and one which is going to improve patients’ experience by getting people to appropriate care more efficiently by this integration of urgent care services.

“We undertook a comprehensive procurement process, which included engaging with clinicians, patients and members of the public to identify issues, address them and design a new integrated urgent care service which will revolutionise the experience for those calling 111. The Thames Valley region will be an early adopter of this new approach which will be rolled out throughout England by 2020.

“During the summer of 2015 the 10 CCGs in the Thames Valley undertook widespread public engagement with key stakeholders, as well as a review of feedback from existing users of the current 111. This gave us a picture of patient experiences and desired improvements to NHS 111, as well as gaining an understanding of public knowledge of urgent care services.

“I would like to thank all those local residents, stakeholders and clinicians who took the time to give their views and feedback during the engagement process. Your valuable contribution will help shape this integrated service and confirms our commitment to ensuring that patients are at the heart of the services we commission.”

Philip Astle, Chief Operating Officer at SCAS, said “We are delighted to be at the heart of these exciting developments of the NHS 111 in the Thames Valley. SCAS has a strong track record of working with healthcare partners to deliver outstanding care to the people of the Thames Valley, and this transformation of NHS 111 will enable us to build on that record.”

A detailed mobilisation plan is now being implemented; working towards the launch in September 2017.

The national Commissioning Standards for Integrated Urgent Care published in 2015, describe an ambitious model of care for the future in support of the Urgent and Emergency Care Review. Commissioners across Thames Valley are committed to delivering a regional service that meets the full potential of these standards.


Note to editors
The Senior Responsible Officer on behalf of the 10 CCGs in the Thames Valley, Sam Burrows (Director of Strategy, Berkshire West CCGs), and Philip Astle (Chief Operating Officer) from SCAS are available for interview. To arrange please email

(1) The 10 CCGs in the Thames Valley are:

  • Aylesbury Vale
  • Bracknell and Ascot
  • Chiltern
  • Newbury & District
  • North & West Reading
  • Oxfordshire
  • Slough
  • South Reading
  • Windsor, Ascot & Maidenhead
  • Wokingham

(2)   The SCAS alliance comprises the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust