Prescription Ordering Direct service update

9th July 2024

Norfolk and Waveney’s Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) service closed on Friday 28 June 2024.

The POD service allowed patients from 18 of Norfolk and Waveney’s 105 GP Practices to order repeat medications over the phone or online through a central hub.  

Following a period of engagement with local people and staff, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB) announced the closure of the POD service in February 2024.

Since the majority of patients using the POD were from Great Yarmouth and Waveney, a report by Healthwatch Suffolk was produced with key themes from this public engagement.

As a result of feedback from local people and staff, health professionals have worked at pace to explore all avenues to support vulnerable and digitally excluded patients across the health and care system manage their repeat medication requests. Following this support, most patients who previously used the POD are now able to request their prescriptions directly from their surgeries.

A smaller team will continue to support remaining POD users to access alternative services for ordering their medicines until the end of July 2024. A helpline will then remain available over the summer and from September 2024 a new team will be available to support the whole of primary care across Norfolk and Waveney to manage and improve repeat prescribing processes.

The team consists of pharmacy professionals who previously worked in the POD service and other medicines optimisation experts. They will run an ongoing cycle of projects to ensure safe and effective repeat prescription management across the whole of our system. This will also include continuing to work with ICB digital colleagues to improve access to online services for those who are digitally excluded. People who are able to use these alternative digital methods of ordering their repeat prescriptions such as through their GP surgery website or the NHS App continue to be supported to transition across to these.

It is also anticipated that the new team will lead and support the rollout of the joint repeat prescribing toolkit due to be launched in the summer by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Royal College of General Practice.  The aim of the toolkit is to improve the consistency of repeat prescribing processes and support with training resources for GP practice reception and administration teams.

NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB recommends the NHS App as the best way of making repeat prescription requests. The NHS App provides a simple and reliable means of ordering repeat prescriptions, and it is also possible to grant access to someone else to order prescriptions on their behalf, such as a family member.

All GP practices who previously used the POD have been provided with a toolkit of resources for helping patients to get online with the NHS App.

Modern cloud telephony systems have now been installed at every GP practice in Norfolk and Waveney to further support practices in how they offer repeat prescription services for their patients. Callback functionality means that any patient who uses the telephone will not need to hold to be answered, paying for the waiting time, but can instead choose the callback option and the practice will ring when someone is free. 

These systems are configurable, and each GP practice can set their system up to best suit their way of working such as enabling patients to navigate directly to the appropriate teams such as their prescription ordering line.

The ICB continues to work with all GP practices that have patients who previously used the POD service, as well as the digital inclusion teams of both Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, and local voluntary sector providers, to support people who have not previously used the NHS App to download it and register for the service.

For those who do not use digital methods, GP practices are able to accept paper requests for repeat prescriptions.  Prior to the closure of POD, identified vulnerable patients were referred to their GP practice for additional support.