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Out-of-hours medicines

How to get your prescription medicines outside usual opening hours.

If you run out of medicine outside of your GP practice's normal opening hours and need some urgently, there are a few ways to get an emergency supply quickly, even if you're away from home.

If you have a prescription

If you already have a prescription and urgently need the medicine, try the following steps:

  • If your local pharmacy is closed, you should be able to get your medicine from any pharmacy as long as they have your medication in stock. Use the NHS pharmacy service search to find other nearby pharmacies and their opening hours – some are open until midnight or even later, even on public holidays. By clicking on "narrow your search", you can select different opening times, such as early, late or weekend opening.
  • If you'd like to speak to someone first, call NHS 111 free of charge by dialling 111 on your mobile or landline. The person you speak to will be able to look up an out-of-hours pharmacy or another NHS service in your area.
  • You can also use the NHS walk-in centre service search to find your nearest walk-in centre. These can sometimes dispense medicines after a consultation.
  • For very urgent cases, you could try calling your GP practice. They should have details of their out-of-hours service recorded on their answering machine. This is the service your GP runs outside their usual opening hours and on public holidays, and shouldn't be used routinely. You can use the NHS GP service finder to find your GP surgery's phone number.
  • If it's a real emergency and you've tried all of the above unsuccessfully, use the service search to find your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) unit.

If you don't have a prescription

If you run out of prescription medicine and don't have a prescription with you, you should be able to get an emergency supply from a pharmacy without a prescription.

It's a good idea to take an old prescription or the medicine's packaging with you, if you have it.

Pharmacies

You'll be interviewed by the pharmacist to find out:

  • if you need the medicine immediately
  • who previously prescribed the medicine (to make sure they're a trusted source)
  • what dose of the medicine would be appropriate for you to take

The pharmacist will need to know the answers to all of these questions before they can supply a prescription-only medicine without a prescription in an emergency.

If the pharmacist isn't satisfied that the medicine and dose is appropriate for you, they may not supply the medicine.

You may need to pay for this service and your medicine, even if you don't normally, because they're being provided without a prescription. This may vary between pharmacies.

Find a local pharmacy, including its opening hours.

GPs and walk-in centres

If you run out of medicine while you're away from home, you may be able to have a consultation with a local GP and get a prescription for a limited supply of medicines. You'd then need to find a pharmacy that's open.

Or, you could go to an NHS walk-in centre. They may be able to organise a GP consultation. In some cases, they can give you medicine after you've seen a nurse.

Some walk-in centres are open from early morning to late evening seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Find a walk-in centre near you.

If you don't need a prescription

If you need a non-prescription medicine, such as paracetamol or an antacid, and you can't find an open pharmacy, the following places may stock a basic range of over-the-counter medicines:

  • supermarkets
  • newsagents
  • petrol stations

They also often have longer opening hours than high-street pharmacies.

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