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Maximum validity of prescriptions extended to one year, as govt aims to reduce pressure on GPs

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

THE MAXIMUM LEGAL validity of prescriptions has been extended from six to 12 months.

This means that doctors 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 six months up to a maximum of 12 months, if they have a prescription dated 1 March, 2024, or later.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is now encouraging people to talk to their prescribers when their current prescription is due for renewal to see if they are suitable for an extension.

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

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 was recommended by 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. 

Minister Donnelly said that pharmacists have “a very important role to play” and he is pleased to give them the “authority” to make more decisions around patient prescriptions, “subject to their professional judgement”.

As of last summer, the government was examining other proposals that would allow for pharmacists to assess and treat minor illnesses.

There are currently no details available on what illnesses may be covered under the proposed scheme and it’s understood that the project is still at an early stage.

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