What does a Prescription Clerk do in a typical day?
Most days start early at 8am, checking the external and internal post boxes for any written
prescription requests on the way into the building. This postbox is checked again at lunchtime
and also toward the end of the day. It has to be checked this often as there is a 48 hour turnaround
time for our patients. I always check to see which GPs and Prescribers are in for that day, so I
know who to direct requests to throughout the day, then I find it important to check in with the
wider admin team and see how everyone is and check any urgent priorities for the day ahead.
Once the system is up and ready to go, the first tasks are checking any urgent prescription requests
from the previous day and ensuring these are actioned as priority.
Then begins the task of issuing prescription requests, these can come from the postbox at the Practice,
via email or electronic requests from GPs, Prescribers, Pharmacies, appliance contractors or community
teams. These often amount to hundreds of requests each day! Some requests are simple and straight-
forward medication requests authorised on the patients repeat list, but often we have requests for
seasonal medicines, new medicines yet to be authorised for a repeat list or medicines in the past
medicines. This can slow down the process, as all of these have to be a “request issue” to a GP.
Understanding the complexity of different patient’s needs, high risk medicines and maintaining
patient safety, is a huge part of the role of being a prescription clerk!
The other big task throughout the day is dealing with Care home or nursing home requests, which can be
anything from the full monthly medication requests for all residents to interim medication requests.
Taking regular breaks throughout the day and stepping away from the screen are so important, so I ensure
this happens every couple of hours.
The phonelines are open all day for prescription queries, but we do not take requests over the phone so,
often need to guide patients on how they can order their medicines. We have also had an increase in the
number of requests for alternative medications from Pharmacies, due to stock issues.
Many external medication requests, queries or changes come to us via our Docman System and this
has to be regularly checked throughout the day and as we need to be aware of assessing priority requests
and getting these actioned by the GP, as soon as possible. It is a fast paced and varied role and alongside
lots of cups of tea (and the occasional biscuit) the day whizzes by!
If you have a busy prescription team or have recently taken on new members of staff, we highly recommend
the online Prescription Clerks course. This course is designed to encourage more effective communication,
through the learner gaining more enhanced knowledge on prescriptions and therefore, the legal and patient
safety responsibilities surrounding processing prescriptions. Click here for further details.