About NHS Emergency Supply Service

If you urgently need medication, contact your prescriber immediately to arrange a prescription. If this isn't possible, you may be able to get medicine from a pharmacist in an emergency, subject to certain conditions.

You must have been prescribed the medicine before by a doctor, dentist, nurse independent prescriber, optometrist independent prescriber or other healthcare professional, who is registered in the UK. In addition to this, the pharmacist:

The pharmacist may provide an emergency supply of up to 30 days treatment for most prescription medicines, with these exceptions:

The pharmacist will then make a note in their prescription book of:

Even if the pharmacist is unable to give you an emergency supply of a medicine, they will advise you on how to obtain any essential medical care you may need.

Is it an NHS service?

No. Supplying medicine in an emergency is a private service that is not funded by the NHS, meaning that pharmacists can charge for it. The charge will vary, depending on the medicine and the pharmacist's policy.

Getting your medicine or a prescription

You may be able to get your medicine or a prescription in one of the following ways:

Visitors to the UK

If you are a visitor to the UK, you may be able to get an emergency supply of medicine from a pharmacist:

However, this arrangement is not applicable to medicines prescribed by other EEA or Swiss healthcare professionals, such as nurses, and it doesn't apply to all medicines. For example, pharmacists can't provide an emergency supply of:

In addition to this, the pharmacist may not be able to provide an emergency supply of medication if the prescription is written in a language they can't understand.

It is illegal for pharmacists to supply medicines based on prescriptions issued outside the UK, the EEA or Switzerland. This includes prescriptions issued by doctors in the US and Canada.


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