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Everything you need to know about emergency prescriptions

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We’re here to help you find out how to get an emergency prescription when you need it, whether you’ve run out of medication or your GP surgery is shut. The steps you can take to get an emergency prescription differ if you already have a prescription or if you need a new prescription. We can also help if you are visiting the UK from another country, read on to find out more about how emergency prescriptions work and how you can get one in urgent circumstances.

How do I get an emergency prescription?

If you already have a prescription and need to get the medication urgently you can:

  • Visit your local pharmacy. If your nearest pharmacy is closed, you can get your prescription from any other pharmacy, as long as they have the treatment you need in stock.

  • Call your GP surgery if you need your medication urgently, if they are closed their answer machine should explain other out-of-hour services you could use. However, every surgery is different, and the services available outside of opening hours and on public holidays may vary. This option should only be used when you need an emergency prescription and not when you need a doctor’s appointment.

  • Call NHS 111 for non-emergency medical advice or help. Only call them if your pharmacy is closed, and you are not in a life-threating situation or in need urgent medical care. They will be able to find an out-of-hours pharmacy with late opening hours, or another NHS service such as a walk-in centre that can give you your medication, if you have a prescription. Please note some walk-in centres will want a consultation with you before they give you your medication to ensure it is right for you.

    If you have tried and failed all of the above options to find a service to obtain your prescription, then your final option would be to find your nearest A&E department via the NHS website and visit the healthcare team there. This should only be used if it is a real life-threatening emergency.

    If you don’t have a prescription and need one in a hurry you can:

    Visit a healthcare professional including a pharmacist or your doctor. If you can, you should contact the healthcare professional who prescribes your medication to give you a prescription. If you are unable to do this, you can get medication from a pharmacist in emergency circumstances. Visit your local pharmacy store for help, you can find your nearest LloydsPharmacy

    If you can, try and take an old prescription, your medication or the medication packaging with you when you see a pharmacist. You may want to call your local pharmacy before you visit to make sure they can help you and that you have everything you need to request your emergency prescription.

    To get an emergency prescription from a pharmacist they will need:

    • To see you face-to-face
    • Evidence that you have had a prescription for the medication you are requesting before. They will want to know that this was from a doctor, dentist, nurse independent prescriber, optometrist independent prescriber, pharmacist independent prescriber or another healthcare professional registered in the UK.
    • To agree that you need the medication urgently and immediately
    • Make sure that the dose you need is right for you

    The pharmacist will then be able to supply a prescription to you in an emergency; however, the pharmacist may not prescribe the medication if they think the medicine or dose is not right for you. If the medication is provided you may need to pay for it, even if you don’t normally. Your pharmacist will be able to explain any costs.

    Can I get an emergency prescription?

    Yes, if you’re away from home and run out of your medicine, you may be asked to register at your nearest doctor’s surgery as a temporary patient. You can then book an appointment to get a prescription for a limited amount of your medication. You’ll then need to visit a pharmacy that is open to get your medication. Please bear in mind that this may not be the quickest way to have your medication dispensed. If you’re unsure what would be best for you, a pharmacist can advise you based on your individual needs.

    You may also be able to get an emergency prescription out of hours, as many pharmacies offer late opening hours as well as Sunday opening. A supermarket or local shop might be able to assist, many stock over-the-counter medicines including ibuprofen or indigestion tablets.

    Can you get an emergency prescription as a visitor to the UK?

    Yes, you can get an emergency prescription when you’re in the UK, however there are certain criteria that you need to meet to be able to collect an emergency prescription from a UK pharmacy. So that you can receive a supply of medication the pharmacist will need to ensure that:

    • The medication you need has been prescribed to you before by a doctor or dentist registered in a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. The pharmacist will request evidence of this from you, as prescriptions from the US or Canada can’t be supplied in the UK.
    • The emergency prescription has been requested by a doctor or dentist registered in the EEA or Switzerland. Prescriptions prescribed by other healthcare professionals including nurses are not valid.
    • Your prescription, from a doctor or dentist registered in the EEA or Switzerland, is valid.
    • Your medication has UK marketing authorisation and is not a controlled drug. Medicines in these categories will not be dispensed as a emergency medication.
    • The prescription request is readable and written in a language that the pharmacist understands.

    Please note, a faxed prescription is not valid or legal, only a printed paper prescription signed with ink will allow the healthcare professional to dispense your prescription medication.

    Can LloydsDirect by LloydsPharmacy give me an emergency prescription?

    Once you are registered for an NHS repeat prescription account with LloydsDirect by LloydsPharmacy and have requested for prescription it normally takes two working days for a GP to approve your prescription. After your GP has approved your prescription, delivery and dispensing can take 7 to 10 days. If you need an emergency supply of medication, or you’re waiting on your GP for your prescription, then you can contact their customer services team. The team can give you a barcode for you to take to your local LloydsPharmacy, they’ll be able to download your prescription and give it to you the same day.