New regulations have come into place which will speed up the process of dealing with prescriptions during the Covid-19 crisis.
This will be of benefit to thousands of people in Donegal.
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has signed off on legislation that will allow for the electronic transfer of prescriptions to a pharmacy via the HSE's Healthmail system.
This will remove the requirement for a paper copy of a prescription to be forwarded to a pharmacy as long as it is sent and received through the closed-system electronic service.
This provision will reduce the need for a patent to attend at a surgery to collect a prescription during the emergency.
Other methods of transfer such as private emails of faxes will not be recognised as legitimate prescriptions and the original prescription must be presented at the pharmacy at the time of dispensing.
In addition, the maximum period of validity of a prescription is increased from six months to nine months as of the date specified on the prescription.
Some temporary changes to the way in which prescriptions can be repeated are also being introduced to enable pharmacists to ensure the continuity of care of patients without necessarily requiring a new prescription.
Minister Harris said: "We are asking people to stay home. We know many people will still require access to important medicines and that is why we are introducing these measures.
“However, I also want to remind patients and the general public not to seek supplies of medicines over and above their normal requirements. Doing so will hamper the supply of medicines for others.
"The changes we will make today will relieve the pressure on GPs and pharmacists.
“Crucially, it will reduce the need for people to visit their GP or pharmacy during this pandemic.
"This is a significant step and will help us in our efforts to slow the spread of this virus,” he said.
A number of urgent amendments to the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 2003 and the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2017, were signed into law by the Minister.
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