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Emergency Medication

​If you urgently need medication, contact your Prescriber immediately to arrange a prescription. If this isn’t possible, you may be able to get medicine from a Pharmacist in an emergency, subject to certain conditions.

​You must have been prescribed the medicine before by a Doctor, Dentist, Nurse Independent Prescriber, Optometrist Independent Prescriber or other healthcare professional, who is registered in the UK. In addition to this, the Pharmacist:

  • ​will usually need to see you face-to-face
  • must agree that you need the medicine immediately
  • will usually need evidence that you have been prescribed that medicine before
  • must be satisfied with the dose that is most appropriate for you to take

The Pharmacist may provide an emergency supply of up to 30 days’ treatment for most prescription medicines, with these exceptions:-

  • ​insulin, an ointment, a cream or an asthma inhaler – the smallest pack size.
  • the contraceptive pill – a full treatment cycle.
  • liquid oral antibiotics – the smallest quantity to provide a full course of treatment.
  • permitted controlled medicines (controlled drugs) – up to five days’ treatment. Permitted controlled medicines include a very limited range of medicines, such as those for epilepsy (phenobarbital). Many commonly used controlled medicines such as morphine or diamorphine can’t be supplied without a prescription by a pharmacist in an emergency.

The Pharmacist will then make a note in their prescription book of:

  • ​your name and address
  • the nature of the emergency
  • the date of the emergency supply
  • the name, quantity, form (e.g. capsules, tablets or liquid) and strength of the medicine

Even if the Pharmacist is unable to give you an emergency supply of a medicine, they will advise you on how to obtain any essential medical care you may need.

Is it an NHS service?

No – supplying medicine in an emergency is a private service that is not funded by the NHS, meaning that Pharmacists can charge for it. The charge will vary, depending on the medicine and the Pharmacist’s policy.

​Getting your medicine or a prescription

You may be able to get your medicine or a prescription in one of the following ways:

  • ​seeing a local GP and asking for a prescription. Staff at an NHS walk-in centre may be able to arrange for you to see a GP
  • asking a local Pharmacist if they can provide an emergency supply of your medicine
  • in some cases, a Nurse at an NHS walk-in centre may be able to supply your medicine or a prescription
  • outside normal GP hours, you may be able to get a prescription from an out-of-hours service