Healthcare has made massive progress in recent years. Whereas before there was limited treatments we could offer for somebody who has had a heart attack, diagnosed with diabetes, suffering with back pain or depression, there is a lot we can do now. Big advances in our understanding of these conditions mean that we have much more effective means of treating people and so many more people are surviving and living longer than ever before.

If taking medications has benefits then not taking the medications….

But this has come at a cost. Increasingly patients are being diagnosed with conditions sooner and we are increasingly identifying patients at risk of serious diseases which require them to take medication to prevent a relapse or problems arising. With each new condition, patients are being asked to start multiple medications. Some medications have to be taken multiple times daily but others are only taken as required or perhaps once a week instead. Some medications are only needed when the condition flares up. Is it any wonder then that some patients find it confusing, not sure what they are taking or why, forget to take their medication or run out of medication without even realising it. 

If patients do not take their medication as prescribed then they may leave themselves at potential risk of harm. Not taking their diabetes medication increases the risks of developing long term complications; not taking anti-depressants may mean their mood worsens, they become more irritable or work or family relationships suffer; not taking their blood pressure tablets may mean their blood pressure rises even for those few hours when they should take it and hence increase the risks of a heart attack, stroke or event death; not getting their nicotine patches in time may mean that they start smoking again and then all the good that was hoped for is undone. Worse still if your doctor or nurse is not aware that you are having problems then they may add even more medications for you to take thinking the medication you should be taking are not working! Even the most organised patients and families succumb with all the pressures of life and all the other things we have to do. Remembering to take our medications is getting harder and harder and when we forget it makes us feel even worse.

Pill Dispenser
The Pill Dispenser can be programmed in to release the correct medication at different times throughout the day. The device itself will sound an alarm and flash so that the user is aware that their medication is due. A delay can be set so that if the medication isn’t removed within a set amount of time, it will automatically trigger an alarm through to our control centre. This is all part of the Tameside Community Response Service. Learn more here about what else is available.

What can patients do to ensure they get their repeat medications on time?

  • Come to the surgery and put your request in on paper (can be time consuming and not always convenient) 
  • Book an appointment with a doctor to get your medication (easy to do but is that useful use of your or the doctor’s time?)
  • There are telecare solutions available at low cost which can remind patients when it is time to take your tablets eg the Pill Dispenser.
  • Order prescriptions online (easy to do, family or carers can do this via Proxy Access for you if you give them permission and available 24 hours a day 7 days a week from anywhere in the world)
  • Nominate your preferred pharmacist so that once prescriptions are accepted at the surgery, they can be electronically sent to the preferred pharmacy. You then only have to go to your preferred pharmacist to collect your prescription or ask them to deliver it for you if they provide the service.
  • You should always order your prescriptions yourself and then have the prescription automatically delivered to your preferred pharmacy – this ensures you only get the items you need and prevents waste and frees the pharmacist to deal with customers they need to deal with. 

So how can patients learn about their medications and what they are for?

Remember your doctor or nurse is your first port of call. They have prescribed medication for you and should have explained why they have started it and what to expect. They can also help you to take your medication too.

Would you like to order repeat prescriptions online for yourself, your family or those whom you care for?

If you would like to order prescriptions online then please go to the surgery and ask the receptionist for your PIN NUMBERS. You will need to register your pin numbers before you can order prescriptions online.

If you have children and you are their legal guardian then you can also get their pin numbers too via proxy access. However if your children are entering their teenage years then we recommend that you talk to your child and encourage them to take more responsibility so that they collect the PIN NUMBERS themselves and perhaps even start ordering prescriptions themselves. It’s never too early for them to start looking after their own health and we think this is an ideal opportunity for them to learn with you and supported by the practice. 

If you care for somebody or wish to order prescriptions for adult members of your household then they will first have to ask for their PIN NUMBERS themselves. They can then pass them to you for safe keeping and also so that you can order prescriptions on their behalf. But please remember they are their PIN NUMBERS and they can revoke access for you at any time. 

If any patient thinks that they are being coerced into letting somebody else to access their prescriptions against their permission then they must contact the practice immediately, email us on [email protected] or contact the national helplines for English speaking and Foreign speaking people. 

What can patients do who are able to order prescriptions online?

  • Patients can order prescriptions online at any time of the day or night from anywhere in the world
  • Patient can save time and money by doing things instantly instead of having to go somewhere or phone somebody or send faxes
  • Patients can order prescriptions online via a smartphone, tablet or computer
  • Patients can ask their family members, friends or carers to order online (but they must give permission to do so). 
  • Patients can easily order all their scripts at once and if one member of the family or carer does it, then all prescriptions for everybody can be ordered at once and then collected at the same time too.
  • Patients can easily choose only the items they need
  • Patients can easily check what medication they should be taking and when
  • Patients can check prescriptions they should be taking regularly have been put on repeat and not just left as acute scripts which they cannot then re-order
  • Patients can read about all current side effects and interactions as well as current clinical trials and advice from the Map of Medicine more easily by seeing the most current information about their medication using the link provided
  • Patients can easily report side effects to the authorities on line using the Yellow Card scheme
  • Patients can ask the practice to take medications off their repeat list if they no longer need it
  • Patients can check if the items requested have been accepted or rejected by the practice
  • Patients can log online and check if there are any comments for them if medications have been rejected
  • Patients can ask for their prescriptions to be passed on to a specific chemist if they wish for collection later in the pharmacy or for the pharmacy to deliver the items at home
  • Nursing homes and residential homes are able to order prescriptions online for all their residents registered with us which is much safer and quicker and easier instead of sending faxes
  • Patients may find their request is dealt with more quickly because it can be easier for the practice to deal with electronic requests online rather than paper requests that take more time to process.
  • Why don’t you also sign up for access to your records too so that you can also read what your doctor or nurse has said. With full access to the records, patients can also see previous medications that they have been prescribed as well as their immunisations too. 
  • As of February 2023, 31% of patients (over 4,000 patients) in the practice have ordered prescriptions online. Click here to see the most current information on how many are using online services and what types of patients

What do patients think of Online Prescription Requests?

Haughton Thornley Medical Centres asked patients who have access to their records if they could tell us about their experience of ordering prescriptions online was. An email was sent on 21st April 2013. 122 patients completed the questionnaire by 4th May 2013. Here is what we found.

Patient comments

We find it a very useful way of ordering, and nearly always do it this way. The prescriptions are passed to the pharmacy next door and they are delivered to our home very quickly. Its a good system.

I didn’t know I could send them straight to the chemist, and am not sure if I have to do anything first to arrange this


After several unsuccessful attempts I gave up on the on-line route.

I Have always ordered my repeat prescriptions online,since i got my computer

Yes if the practice you deal with has 2 surgeries they need to make sure the prescription goes to the right 1

it is annoying when the pharmacy does not have your prescription ready  when you go for it. despite giving them plenty of time. for some reason they only start it  when you are there.

I find it much easier ordering repeat prescriptions online than having to travel to the surgery to hand them in and I can order online at any time of the day or night or even weekend.

Didn’t know you could ask for repeat prescriptions to be sent to Chemist

Great service.

I find online repeat prescriptions a  brilliant idea. I don’t have to make a journey to my GP each month and I am always  informed when I am due for a medication review when I attend for any blood tests etc. Saves me time and worry.

Fantastic service which is user friendly & self explanatory

Ordering online is the most convenient way for me.  It saves me making two very painful walks to the surgery (one to drop in the repeat order and one to collect renewed prescription).  Now that my local chemist is running a collection scheme this is also making my life a lot easier as I only now have to go to the chemist when my prescription is ready instead of collecting from the practice and then waiting for the meds to be made up.  This is so helpful.

I have ordered my repeat prescriptions for about 2 years on line, but I now find it more convenient to let the chemist do it, mainly to my age and the chance to have it delivered, as the surgery is not very close. I have used on line prescriptions for about 2 years, but now I chose the local chemist as they also deliver. This is a boom as the surgery is not very close, but I would recommend it to everyone that can order on line.

I use my husbands online records Account to order his prescriptions online . I do it all the time for him as he is not computer friendly .

The initial synchronisation of all medication needs to take place first to make repeating online most efficient. After that as long as medication remains same and especially if on 84 days supply the system works fine.

I find it a really useful and helpful service.

Nothing seems to be done when sending a message with repeat order

I order repeat prescriptions direct from the chemist next door because they can get them quickly and they deliver them for me.

Sometimes difficult to access the online facility, via emis system

Really good service. I work full time and this makes a huge difference to me. The only problem is when a repeat is removed without any contact which happened to me this month.

It is a really good idea, and probably works very well for the majority of people.  However, the only time I ordered my prescription online, I completely forgot that I had, and only remembered when I was nearly out of my medication.  It is better for me to actually come to the surgery and leave my prescription with the receptionist.  At least the physical action stays in my memory!

Although online services are more convenient, i do feel ” what with telephone consultations” that the personal element of general practice medicine is slipping by the way side.

I wasn’t aware that I could ask for my prescriptions to be sent to the chemist. I know my husband does so I will consider this for future. Can you please let me know if this is something I can do on-line when ordering my next repeat prescription? thank you.I love being able to order them on-line. It is so easy.

I think i am very lucky to be registered at a practise where i’m able to order repeat prescriptions online. It’s so easy to do and is ideal for patients with mobility issues you can also have them delivered free of charge.

My Doctor cancelled my repeat prescriptions without telling me because he wanted me to have a mental health review over the phone. I had a mental health review over the phone and he told me the prescription would be ready for the pharmacist to pick up the next day. It wasn’t there and no one informed me of this so when I picked up my 4 weeks of bubble packs from the pharmacist it did not contain my psychiatric medication. I’ve now been without my medication for three days. Why did the doctor stop my prescription and cause me all these problems in the first place?

Current method of ordering prescriptions on-line works well. Still not happy with the current system that is in place for trying to make an appointment to see a doctor   

A very easy

It is fine to use but I find ordering via the Pharmacy more convenient.

I do not know anything about getting the prescription collected by a chemist so that I can collect it out of surgery hours. The chemist recently mentioned that the practice were doing this, but I have not heard anything at all about this, more information possibly?

New Practice Software has made the process slightly more difficult but once familiar with new layout I have not had any problems

Not tried to do this yet but really need to get to do it must try harder to remember my passwords!!!

Always do it and have never had a problem

System sometimes is slow at logging me in    (Not so important) Website is very cluttered – in design the mantra “Less is more” should be applied

It was quite a long time ago when I had the problem so perhaps now this has been tried and tested and everyone is more used to the process it will be worth another try.

Just like Online Banking you could have the option of your computer remembering your ID number and Practice code etc. therefore you would only have to input your password to gain access.

Brilliant idea. It saves me about half a gallon of petrol

I had problems logging in when the system was changed but that was my error, everything is fine now.  Don’t know how I ever coped without online prescriptions!

I have used on line ordering for 3/4 years but may go back to paper because of the trouble I have had over the last 3 months

It seems an effective and efficient system

This is a great service but don’t think it would suit my elderly parents.

My family and I think the system you have is absolutely brilliant. We had been ordering our prescriptions online for years. I am constantly spreading the word about how fantastic our doctors surgery is. Some of our friends cannot believe how we can order prescriptions an view our medical records, it’s just amazing.

The function to ask for a prescription to be sent to a chemist doesn’t work. My mum and I have both tried it and it doesn’t happen. Otherwise an excellent service.

Very good service. Working full time means I am only able to pick up prescriptions after work & knowing when it is available is important & very convenient for me.

i can think of no other way to improve the service offered

As I have answered above under section 10, ordering repeat prescriptions online saves time, you only order the items you need, and I can check that my prescription has been actioned before I phone the chemist who will then collect the prescription on their collection service.  Soon when the surgery have actioned the prescriptions they will send an electrified message to the chemist advising the items to be prepared for either my collection or delivery by the chemist to my home, as I no longer have my own conveyance and in bad weather the chemist is difficult to reach.  All this makes the online service a vital factor when prescriptions are required.

Better than trying to make contact with the medical centre by phone which is rather difficult and at times can be rather frustrating..  Most convenient ordering on line.

I think it is an excellent system

Only once have I had a prescription that wasn’t ready as the request hadn’t been printed off. This led to a delay but a call to the practice sorted it out.


I have found that the service I use at the moment is the best one for myself because the chemist is available 7 days a week and from 8.30am to 10.00pm

Very easy Very convenient

An great service.

My only difficulty I have with this system is that I cannot collect my prescription until after 10.00, I generally place my request more than three days ahead. I assume that it will be ready two days later, I do not see any reason why I cannot collect it at 0830 in the morning. I do not understand why the box is locked away from the front desk until mid morning. This is very inconvenient for me.

I have recommended it to my husband and he now uses it.  It is useful as I usually think about those sorts of things when the surgery is closed so do it on line is more convenient.

Final thoughts and thanks to all the patients and staff at Haughton Thornley Medical Centres

This is a small survey from 2013 we conducted amongst patients who have signed up to access their full GP electronic health records. It is not representative of the whole population or even amongst the wider group. But it provides useful evidence to show what patients think about the service they are receiving and provides insight for others to know what they think and how it helps or hinders them.

Clearly not everybody is happy with the service and there are problems with other aspects of the service that we still need to deal with. At the time, only 5% of the population had ordered prescriptions online. Anecdotally our reception staff had informed us that less than 3% of requests were coming through online with the majority still coming via paper or from the chemists. No patients commented about the information buttons next to their prescriptions as something they valued. These links do not seem to be providing useful information which we have tried to mitigate by providing our own links on and also highlighted in this report. However it does seem that patients do like being able to order prescriptions online and this is a greatly valued service.  We feel if patients did order prescriptions online then it would be safer, more effective and a better overall experience for patients – markers of a quality service. We hope to see take-up of this service increase with a variety of initiatives that we will undertake in the practice to see what happens.

We would like to thank all the patients at Haughton Thornley Medical Centres who continue to inform us about their experiences, what helps them and what hinders them as we continue to strive to deliver excellent services despite the many challenges we face. Working towards a Partnership of Trust is critical to improving the delivery of care with shared responsibilities and behaviours. We believe the face to face and telephone consultations we offer in the practice complement the online services including ordering prescriptions, viewing medical records and booking appointments online. This enables a wider group of patients to benefit from the services in a more efficient and effective manner in the face of increasingly limited resources, an ageing population with greater needs but with patients who are willing to engage with us and do more for themselves supported by your practice.

The Patient Participation Group is actively using this information to continue to help improve services and offer a patient voice to drive up the quality of care. You can email them on [email protected].