The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is calling on the Health Select Committee to give pharmacists the ability to switch patients’ prescriptions without consulting a doctor, to help minimise any delays in providing patients with medications.

In the announcement made today (18 May), the body asked for medicines legislation to be amended to allow pharmacists to make changes to prescriptions if a medication is unavailable.

This would give pharmacists the ability to change the strength and formulation dispensed, or allow them to prescribe an equivalent generic version of a medicine on a prescription, without having to contact the prescriber.

The proposed amends, would ‘improve patient access to medications’, and would also help ‘reduce GP workload’, the RPS said.

Hospital pharmacists as well as community pharmacists in Scotland, currently have the ability to dispense medicine alternatives to benefit the patient.

As it stands, pharmacists in England can only amend prescriptions for medicines which ministers have issued a serious shortage protocol (SSP) for.

RPS President Sandra Gidley said: ‘We fully support pharmacists to use their professional judgment to put patients first and manage these changes to prescriptions. Covid-19 has seen an emphasis on pharmacists being empowered to do the right thing for patients.

‘At a time when primary care services are under enormous pressure, it’s right to address this imbalance. We want the UK Government to introduce greater flexibility and improve access to medicines by enabling community pharmacists across Great Britain to make these simple changes.’

Last month, the Pharmacist reported on new legislation allowing pharmacists to supply certain controlled drugs without a script to patients who have been prescribed them before.