A common question we get asked is why we charge for repeat prescriptions.
Several patients have commented that this is "Money for Old Rope" and as this is not an uncommonly held perspective, we felt it would be worth explaining why there is a fee and what it covers:
First of all, you have to make your request. This means a staff member has to take your call or read your request, assess the urgency and assign the prescription to a doctor. Once the prescription has been written, the receptionist must file it and invoice you for the service. If the prescription is to be faxed, this must be done, then the original must be mailed to the appropriate pharmacy. Controlled drug prescriptions require a courier pack. When you collect the prescription, the receptionist must locate it and manage the transaction.
When the doctor receives the prescription request, we must check what it is you have requested, when you last had medication, when you were last seen, and then ensure that it is safe to issue the request. We have to apply the same safety criteria to your repeat when you are at home as we do when you are in the surgery. A simple repeat of medication for a patient we see frequently is often easy to do and does not take much time but if you need something extra, something you don't always have, come to see us only infrequently or don't meet our repeat prescribing rules, we have to consider quite carefully whether or not it is reasonable and safe to prescribe for you.
Even what might seem a simple request for an asthma inhaler requires us to consider whether or not this might indicate that you are sick and really ought to be seen. Remember that we are often judged harshly if we accept you at your word and we are expected to act safely, not just conveniently.
Occasionally we need to discuss the request with a colleague, your pharmacy or specialist, check dispensing records, or even call you to discuss your needs.
We try very hard to achieve this within the time frame you request - usually the same working day and barring unusual circumstances always the next. Effectively, a repeat prescription is a consultation, just without you being there.
All of this is included in your repeat prescription fee. This fee is fixed regardless of the amount of time taken to do the work and is waived out of courtesy if we consider it is not appropriate to agree to your request even though it often takes just as much (if not more) time to say no than to say yes.
Quite apart from the time involved in providing the repeat prescribing service, you need also consider that this must also be apportioned a share of the fixed costs of running the business - over $1600 per working day in 2015.
Unlike other local practices, we do not charge for notary work, completing most forms for you or writing the majority of letters on your behalf and we try extremely hard to keep our consultation fees low.
If we were to compare the service with making a request of similar complexity and time from our lawyer today, we would expect to pay around $77, being the minimum fee for a response to an email or letter.
So yes, sometimes we it looks like we may be making a great hourly rate when we repeat your prescription, but just as a duck glides smoothly over the water, there is an awful lot more that meets the eye going on under the surface!
We are always happy to receive feedback about our fees and services - please use our contact form or have a chat with our friendly reception staff. No charge!
Old Rope: Chris
Duck: Neil Crump