AN ONLINE and telephone prescription service which is a lifeline to many locals needing medication could be closed, health bosses have said. 

Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board is one of a small number of healthcare authorities in the UK that provides a Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) system across the region. 

Currently, 28 of the 87 doctors surgeries and a number of care homes use it, with the remaining 59 GP practices prescribing internally or via the NHS App. 

Because of this 'inequitable' approach the ICB has informed local MPs and affected healthcare colleagues that the POD function will stop functioning as it currently does and alternative options will be explored, including potential closure. 

A spokesperson for the BSW ICB said: “The current model of POD isn’t an equitable approach for all BSW practices, care homes and patients and is not financially sustainable.

"We want to look at alternative ways to provide repeat prescribing to ensure that we are offering the very best value for money for local people and communities.   

"No decisions have been made about the future of BSW’s POD and we are keen to hear from patients, practices, care homes and other stakeholders across our area about different ways that repeat prescribing might be delivered in the future.

"We will be engaging directly with practices, patients and care homes over the coming weeks to hear their views.” 

Sir Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon, is one of those who is worried about the potential scrapping of the scheme.

He said: “I have raised concerns about how these proposed changes may impact on the most vulnerable patients, those typically without internet access or the ability to use online forms, either through choice or barriers.

"I have asked how these patients would be able to order their prescriptions, both regular and one-off, and emergency prescriptions if the Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) closes, along with the telephone ordering service.

“I have also raised concerns on behalf of the GP surgeries who currently use POD and asked how / if they have the facilities to manage prescriptions in-house.

“I am aware that many care homes currently order medication through the POD care home service, so I have also raised concerns about the many prescription requests that come through the service for care homes daily, as well as the potential impact on pharmacies."

Sir Robert has requested an urgent meeting with the ICB to discuss this further.