By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 10:42, 06 November 2019
ALMOST half of the UK admit they regularly miss taking crucial medicine, according to a new report.
A huge 45% of repeat prescription patients surveyed say they have missed prescribed doses of their medicine – even though, for many of them, it could seriously affect their health.
That forgetfulness could be costing the NHS dear too, according to the study by Echo, the online pharmacy. A quarter of UK patients claim they have to book up to six repeat trips to see the GP every year because of missed prescriptions – potentially costing the NHS millions of pounds in extra GP appointments and wasted prescription medicines.
1.1 billion prescription items are dispensed in the UK every year, with those medicines costing the NHS an eye-watering £9 billion.
The shock missed prescription figures come despite the fact that a third of repeat prescription patients admit that they know missing their regular dosage of medicine could be dangerous for their physical or mental health.
A further 10% say missing their regular medicine means they could end up in the hospital.
More than half of patients request a repeat prescription from their GP at least once a month. And the main reason patients give for missing prescription doses, according to the Echo pharmacy study, is simple forgetfulness – cited by almost seven out of 10 repeat prescription patients (68%).
Furthermore, almost one in five patients (18%) struggle to travel to their GP or the opening hours don’t suit their schedule. It can be a huge stress for patients who rely on repeat prescriptions – one in five of those we surveyed told us that they have to miss valuable work time, struggle to plan their time around prescription collection or interrupt their work day to make phone calls in order to get their prescription.
Echo’s Chief Pharmacist, Alistair Murray, said: “It isn’t just patients’ forgetfulness that causes issues with the repeat prescription process as it currently stands. More than half of repeat prescription patients (53%) get their regular medicine from a pharmacy once a month, with a further 25% getting their repeat prescriptions once every two months.
It can be a lengthy process for those patients, with long queues, affecting 30% of them, according to our study. Pharmacy opening hours, parking issues at GP surgeries and access problems can mean visiting the GP to get repeat prescriptions is an intrusion for many people’s busy lives.
“With almost 8 out of 10 patients (79%) relying on taking their dose of medicine once or twice every day, it can be hugely worrying it there are hurdles in the way. Here at Echo we aim to help ease that roadblock.
“The online pharmacy option can actually help relieve the pressure on a service that is already creaking under the weight of demand.”
Almost one in every four patients (24%) who rely on prescription medicine say they have missed taking necessary doses because they’ve either run out of medicine or can’t get to the GP or pharmacy in time to refresh their prescription before it runs out.
A third of UK patients surveyed say they take prescription medicine for high blood pressure. Almost one in five (19.9%) say they take regular prescriptions for stomach acid conditions. A further 18.4% of patients take prescriptions for mental health issues and 15% take regular medicine for Arthritis, with a further taking regular medicine for asthma.