Drug shortages

Non-Dispensing Patients (anyone not using Girton Dispensary)


When we prescribe, the prescription is sent electronically to the NHS Electronic Prescription Service ("The Spine"), a secure service which stores your electronic prescription.  

From the Spine, it can be used by any pharmacy in England.  


If you have nominated a pharmacy, they will automatically download the prescription, taking it off the NHS Spine to their own computer system.

If you haven't nominated a pharmacy, the prescription will stay on the Spine until such a time that you go to a pharmacy and ask them to access it.

You can nominate your usual pharmacy by contacting any pharmacy, or by using the NHS app or our online portal.


If your usual pharmacy does not have the medication, they should send the prescription back to the Spine so that you can go to a different pharmacy.

It is your right to shop-around and go to a different pharmacy if your usual pharmacy cannot help you.  It is worth bearing in mind that all the pharmacies in a particular retail chain will have access to the same wholesalers, so there is no benefit of going to another pharmacy of the same name.

Pharmacies should not be asking you to go back to your GP for an alternative to be prescribed.  Often we do not know of a suitable alternative, particularly if it is a medication which has been recommended by a specialist team.  Unfortunately we are finding that a lot of pharmacies do just that, because they get paid for every item which they dispense.  They don't want you to go to a different pharmacy.  However this means we are spending time re-issuing medication or explaining to patients that they need to go to another pharmacy.  In fact this is not part of our work, and its time we could be spending seeing patients. 

Once we have prescribed, it is YOUR responsibility to find a pharmacy which can obtain the medication.

We expect patients to have tried at least 3 different pharmacies before coming back to us.

You may need to contact us if the missing item was prescribed on the same (electronic) prescription as other medications which the pharmacy have already given to you.  Really, they shouldn't be giving you any of the medications unless they are able to fulfill the whole prescription.  But if they have done, they cannot send the prescription back to the Spine because they have issued some of the items.  They should be explaining that to you, apologising and making it clear that yes, you do need to ask us to issue that one item again.  In that case it is best to phone us.