Medicine Management, Prescribing and Pharmacy

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After staffing, the costs of medicines, appliances and dressings in primary care is the biggest cost to NHS North East Essex. The advent of unified budgets means that overspending on drugs can impact on the money allocated for primary care development and hamper or even prevent the launch of new services. Prescribing has always been an unpredictable area, as the launch of new medicines and treatments can rapidly escalate expenditure and exhaust the budget. It is important that we try to manage the prescribing budget carefully.

Prescribing support is to ensure cost effective, quality prescribing and minimise waste. It is not necessarily about cutting costs. This is to allow us to use the best possible treatment for patients. Quality prescribing can help prevent some diseases and stop others from getting worse, and therefore enable patients to continue their lives with minimum interference from their disease or complaint. We also need to ensure that prescribing processes (eg organisation of repeat prescribing) are efficient and safe.

Prescribing support is complex and requires many factors to be weighed and balanced before making recommendations. We must ensure that the use of modern potent medicines is evidence based and appropriate.

Information regarding medicine management, prescribing and pharmacy follows. There are links to specific pages:

Medicines management

Our medicine management team includes staff on a full time or sessional basis. Medicine related issues are discussed within the Integrated Planning sub Committee (IPC) and the North East Essex Medicines Management Committee (NEEMMC).

Prescribing policies

These have been developed by the Medicine Management Team to cover specific prescribing issues.  The link takes you to where the current policies can be viewed.


The Medicines Management Team and the Primary Care Trust is keen to make the best use of the highly qualified and experienced pharmacists working in Colchester and Tendring. They are an essential part of the health care team and are easily accessible. Many are developing care away from their traditional dispensing practices. These include emergency hormonal contraception, smoking cessation, supervised methadone consumption, needle exchange. Where patients or their carers are having difficulty using medicines, a range of support is being put in.

We are urging people to seek advice and help about their medicines so that they use the right ones. We want the public to feel confident about asking questions and raising concerns about their medicines with their GP, pharmacist (chemist) or the nursing staff at their GP practice.

When it comes to repeat prescriptions one of the key messages is:

"If you don't take it then don't tick it!" 

Some people automatically tick all the boxes on their repeat prescription request form rather than tell their GP they no longer want to take all the medicines.

This is one of the main causes of wasted medicines. Each year about £1 million of unused or unwanted medicines are returned to GP practices and pharmacies in Colchester alone which have to be destroyed.

Although there is an increasing range of medicines that can be bought from pharmacies and other sources, we encourage members of the  public to seek advice from a pharmacist before purchasing items for self medication.

Pharmacies providing specific services eg those fitting trusses, offering delivery services etc can be found on the NHS Choices website. 

Pharmacy opening hours including late opening

For details of standard local pharmacy hours go to the NHS Choices website, or our Pharmacy Section.

Out of Hours: The prescribing doctor will contact a pharmacist for you if your prescription is urgent.


Useful Links

Pharmacy Opening Hours (Adobe Acrobat - 82 Kb)

Non-Dispensing Scheme - Documents

 GP notification of non-dispensed items form (Adobe Acrobat - 25 Kb)

 Prescribing Interval Policy (Adobe Acrobat - 31 Kb)

 Policy on Prescribing and Supply of Medicines which are available for purchase: self-care (Adobe Acrobat - 31 Kb)