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Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent reports he has received of the prevalence of the automatic ordering of repeat prescriptions; and if he will take steps to end the practice. (290100)

I am told that the Department has received one report of automatic ordering of repeat prescriptions by pharmacies. The terms of service of pharmacists (Schedule 1 of the National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2005) include a number of provisions relevant to this issue. For example, paragraph 10 (a) and (c) of the terms of service makes provision for pharmacists to ensure that appropriate advice is given to patients, in particular with regards to the request of repeatable prescriptions.

This is supported by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain’s (RPSGB) professional standards and guidance for patient consent, which makes clear that patients have a basic right to be involved in decisions about their health care and the process of obtaining consent is fundamental for patient autonomy. Obtaining consent is an on-going process and not a single event.

It is for primary care trusts to take action in relation to any breach of pharmacists’ terms of service and for the RPSGB to take action in relation to any breach of professional standards.