Medicines Shortage Guidance

Colleagues will be aware that there is a contractual requirement for medicines and appliances ordered on NHS prescriptions to be dispensed with reasonable promptness by community pharmacies and other dispensing contractors. Currently there are  an unprecedented number of medicines in short supply however.

Staff working in primary care (both in general practice and community pharmacy) are often working under considerable pressure and we are aware that liaison between the two teams in relation to out of stock medicines has caused frequent operational difficulties with patient care, and frustration for all parties

If dispensing contractors are struggling to obtain products for less than the Drug Tariff price, they should notify the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee so that they can advocate on their behalf to get a price concession from the Department of Health & Social Care to ensure that pharmacies are not dispensing at a loss.

If a prescribed medicine is out of stock, ensure all options to help the patient get their treatment have been considered before contacting the prescriber. If the prescribing practice is contacted to discuss an alternative, let practice staff know when the item prescribed will be back in stock (see overleaf) and which potential alternatives are in stock to avoid having to go the process twice.

NHS England SW have issued guidance (June 2018)