We have been contacted by a number of members with regard to requests from pharmacists to write phased dispensing on prescriptions.
There is no obligation on you to write dispense weekly on the GMS scripts unless you feel that it is medically necessary for the individual patient in which case you can write same at the time of the consultation when writing the prescription. This may be necessary, for example, for patients who are at risk of not taking their medication as prescribed.
You can also now indicate this through the PCRS suite which will allow you to indicate that a certain patient is to receive phased dispensing. This may be for a period of up to 24 months or lifelong if the patient is over 80. This new function means that phased dispensing or dispense weekly does not have to be written on each prescription for the relevant patient. It is important that GPs do not request phased dispensing where same is not medically necessary. The above instance is the only role the GP has in relation to phased dispensing.
Pharmacists also have the facility to indicate to PCRS that phased dispensing is necessary for a patient and the GP has no role or obligation in relation to this.
In this regard, it is important to note that blister packing and phased dispensing are two separate processes. Phased dispensing requires the patient to present to the pharmacy each week for dispensing of medicines whereas blister packing is where medication is given in one visit but is packaged to indicate when medication should be taken. It may very well be appropriate that a GP request blister packing, particularly where a patient is elderly but this is a separate matter to phased dispensing. It is a matter for the individual GP as to whether they wish to request same. We trust that this clarifies the distinction between these two processes.
Finally, in order for a pharmacist to claim the additional phased dispensing fees from PCRS there are four reasons which may be used for a valid claim:
At the request of a patient's physician;
Due to the inherent nature of a medicinal product i.e. product stability and shelf life;
Where a patient is commencing new drug therapy with a view to establishing patient tolerance and acceptability before continuing on a full treatment regimen;
In exceptional circumstances where the patient is incapable of safely and effectively managing the medication regimen
Reason four allows the pharmacist to indicate to PCRS that phased dispensing is necessary for the patient. The GP has no role in this process and should not write phased dispensing or dispense weekly on a prescription unless they themselves feel this is necessary at the time of writing the prescription.