Data reveals a large increase in online prescriptions being ordered
The number of people in Morecambe Bay who order their prescriptions online has more than quadrupled over the past two years, according to NHS data.
The Royal College of GPs has called electronic prescribing services “hugely successful”, saying online technology can benefit doctors and patients alike.
Figures from GPs show that in October this year, there were 67,483 patients in the Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group signed up to request repeat prescriptions online.
That’s 51,933 more than in October 2016, when 15,550 people were registered - a rise of 334%.
The number of prescriptions ordered through GP online services is nine times what it was in 2016.
So far this year, 322,272 prescriptions have been requested. That’s the equivalent of 1,060 a day.
From January to October 2016, that figure was 35,907, or 118 a day.
The option to book appointments online has also become much more popular.
The figures show the number of appointments booked, changed or cancelled online has doubled over the last two years.
This year so far, an average of 735 appointments a week were organised online, compared to 350 a week in 2016.
Online services are free and available to nearly everyone registered with a GP. More than 99% of practices in England now have this option available to patients.
Registered users can also access parts of their medical record through the service, including information about allergies, vaccinations and test results.
In Morecambe Bay one in five GP patients are signed up for at least one online service.
The Royal College of GPs called online services a “benefit” to GPs, practice teams and patients.
College chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “GPs have always been at the forefront of new innovation: we pioneered both electronic patient records and electronic prescribing in the NHS.”
Prof Stokes-Lampard said that patients having online access to their GP surgery can be both convenient for patients and time-saving for busy doctors and practice staff.
She said that electronic prescribing services that link surgeries directly to pharmacies have also been “hugely successful”.
“However, whilst these services can undoubtedly benefit some patients, they might not be suitable for everyone.
“That’s why it’s important that surgeries are also able to continue to offer more traditional means of delivering their services, for patients who prefer to speak to their practice directly.
“In an ideal world, practices will be able to offer all patients a wide range of different access to general practice services, but this would involve having the resources to do so.”
NHS England said it would “seek to take further advantage of digital tools, whilst continuing to provide traditional services”.
Chief digital officer Juliet Bauer said: “The NHS wants to empower the public to take more control of their own healthcare.
“It’s incredibly positive that over 15 million, or over 25% of, patients in England are signed up to online services in their GP practice and so many are going online to order repeat prescriptions and book GP appointments.”
Across England, an average of 120,000 prescriptions are ordered a day through online services, almost triple the number in 2016.