People have told the Healthwatch network recently about the issues they have experienced with their GP and pharmacists when trying to get the medication they need.
Difficulty in getting GP appointments can mean that people don’t get diagnosed and prescribed with the medication they need, as quickly as they need it.
We also heard from people whose medication has been changed without them knowing and others whose medication caused them to experience allergic reactions or had conflicted with their existing prescription.
In other serious cases, people had said they have been given wrong medication by their GP, people said they did not always feel listened to, some felt disappointed with the lack of empathy shown.
One said: “The practice stopped my medications and told me I needed a blood test. I regularly have blood tests in hospital. My consultant had written to my GP and asked them to continue to prescribe. I had a medication review recently.
“I explained I was happy to have blood tests but was running low on medication, included painkillers and needed to have prescribed them pretty urgently. I have struggled to medications in the past and sometimes end up in hospital to get them.
“I don’t understand why my medication was stopped this time.”
We heard from people who had the right prescription, but pharmacies did not have the medication in stock when they tried to collect them.
Not being able to get medication as soon as it is needed can leave people feeling stressed and anxious, but it can also have other effects. For some it can make dealing with acute pain and infections more difficult, whilst others are left struggling to manage a broad range of chronic conditions from eczema, poor mental health and cancer. Sometimes people said the pharmacists gave then a different medication to what they were prescribed.
Getting medication right is an important part of effective treatment, but from a broader perspective it is looking at people’s perceptions of how efficient they feel the NHS is.
From the feedback the Helathwatch network has received we have developed several themes in which access to mediation can shape opinion of the NHS: Building trust in a modern, truly integrated care system; Availability of medication – over the winter period there was a big campaign encouraging people to get a flu vaccination but many surgeries ran out.
Postcode lotteries with Clinical Commissioning Groups looking to reduce expenditure by not prescribing certain items such a some over the counter medications or Gluten free units.
Purchasing practices, the NHS is one of our biggest organisations: more could be done to bulk buy at cost.
Let Healthwatch know your views. Get in touch:
Phone: 0118 418 1 418
Nicola Strudley works two days a week as the manager for Healthwatch Wokingham Borough. Opinions expressed in this blog are her own