Remembering to order repeat medication is often a struggle for busy people, but there is a solution – electronic repeat dispensing, and with three bank holidays this May, when some GP and pharmacies’ opening hours may change, the time to act is now.

Electronic repeat dispensing (also known as eRD) gives patients the reassurance of knowing their next prescription will be ready for collection at their pharmacy when they need it, and it’s flexible so they can get medication at busy times like bank holidays.

Matt Auckland has used electronic repeat dispensing for his regular medication for four years. As an NHS pharmacy professional, he explains how the free service works and its advantages for patients.

“I have an artificial heart valve fitted and have to take warfarin every day,” explains Matt. “My big anxiety is running out of warfarin – or going away and realising I’ve left it behind. Knowing there are batches of my regular medication ready to be dispensed through electronic repeat dispensing relieves that anxiety.

“You’ve only got to look at the peak demand that pharmacies get in the run-up to bank holidays like Easter and Christmas. The increase in dispensing activity is significant and we know from past studies that people on electronic repeat dispensing are much less likely to require emergency supplies because they can ask for a batch to be downloaded from the electronic repeat dispensing system.”

Through electronic repeat dispensing a prescriber can authorise up to 12 months’ worth of regular prescriptions for patients that are stable. These are then ready for download and dispensing at their nominated pharmacy each time the patient needs it.

Since its introduction, GP practices and pharmacists in Yorkshire and the North East have embraced electronic repeat dispensing and the region has been the top performer in the growth of the scheme for the last two years.

Matt adds: “My message to other patients who haven’t yet registered for electronic repeat dispensing would be if you have regular medication that you have to take every day and can’t be without then this is for you.

“And if the ‘worst case scenario’ happens and you forget to arrange your medication or to take it with you when travelling, as long as you’re anywhere within this country you’ve always got the option of going to a local pharmacy and requesting your next prescription from the electronic repeat dispensing system.

“These reasons, for me – as a pharmacy professional and someone who has a regular repeat prescription – mean using electronic repeat dispensing is a no-brainer.”