Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly has announced that the maximum legal validity of prescriptions has been extended from 6 to 12 months.

 

This means that:

  • prescribers can now write prescriptions for patients that are valid for up to 12 months
  • from September, patients can ask their pharmacists to extend prescriptions from 6 months to a maximum of 12 months, if they have a prescription dated March 1, 2024, or later

The government is now encouraging people to talk to their prescribers when their current prescription is due for renewal to see if they are suitable for a 12-month prescription.

The new measures provide flexibility for patients, reduce the demand on primary care services and utilise the expertise of pharmacists to improve the provision of healthcare.

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It could also reduce costs for patients who do not receive free GP care via a GP Visit Card or a medical card.

The change has been implemented following the Minister’s acceptance of a recommendation from the Expert Taskforce to Support the Expansion of the Role of Pharmacists.

It is the first recommendation of the Taskforce, which was established in July 2023.

The Taskforce continues its work and will make further recommendations on expanding the role of the pharmacist in the coming months.

 

The changes taking effect today will be welcomed by many patients, particularly those who are stable on medication and who are deemed by their prescriber to be suitable to receive a 12-month prescription, as it reduces the need for repeat visits.

I’m encouraging people to talk to their GP or other prescriber at their next appointment to see if they are suitable for extended prescriptions.

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Pharmacists also have a very important role to play, and I’m pleased that by giving pharmacists authority to extend prescriptions from 6 to 12 months, subject to their professional judgement, we are recognising their expertise and their valued contribution to healthcare in Ireland.

I want to thank the Expert Taskforce members for their work, and I look forward to receiving further recommendations that will enhance pharmacists’ scope of practice for the benefit of all.

 

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Dr Pat O’Mahony, as chair of the Expert Taskforce said:

The work of the Expert Taskforce is advancing well, and we look forward to delivering our recommendations for enabling prescribing by pharmacists.

Implementation of this first recommendation is a very welcome step that facilitates patients and relieves some pressure from our very busy GP practices.

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Minister Rabbitte said:

I welcome this first step in relieving some of the pressure our family doctors are under at their very busy GP practices in every community from Malin Head to Mizen Head, from Galway bay to Dublin bay.

The family doctor holds a vital position in the heart of any community, serving as a trusted and reliable healthcare partner for individuals and families.

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Beyond diagnosing and treating medical conditions, the family doctor plays a crucial role in preventive care, fostering a holistic approach to health that extends beyond mere symptom management.

Their familiarity with patients’ medical histories allows for personalised and compassionate care, establishing a unique bond built on trust and understanding.

Changes to rules around prescriptions - maximum legal validity of prescriptions has been extended from 6 to 12 months. 1
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and she continued:

Family doctors not only address immediate health concerns but also act as health educators, empowering individuals with the knowledge to make informed lifestyle choices.

In times of crisis, their presence provides a stabilising force, offering continuity of care and a sense of reassurance to the community.

Valuing the role of the family doctor is essential for maintaining community well-being, as they contribute not only to physical health but also to the overall resilience and cohesion of the communities they serve.

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