prescriptions

Prescription issues again

It’s Jan 2022 and I’m having prescription issues again, this time because of a shortage of drugs. After last time’s problems, I don’t need this!

I use Gender GP as my prescribing agent, and this has never been an issue but this time the issue has been getting my prescription fulfilled.

Having decided to use an online pharmacy this time as I’ve been working away most of the week and getting to chemists would have been an issue.

Within 2 days of sending them my prescription, I received an email saying they were having trouble sourcing my Estradiol and they would send all my prescription when they had them. I told them I was short and could they send me a few weeks’ supplies. Which they did!

Two weeks later I’d heard nothing and emailed them again, and again was told “Sorry we’re struggling to get hold of Estradiol and Synarel. We’ll send you what we can get when we can get it.”

A week later I received one tub of Estradiol and one Synarel nasal spray. Disappointing as this is only months’ supply of Synarel.

I email them again and again, the same email “Sorry, we’re struggling to get supplies”

I’m getting worried now as I only have a few days’ supplies left.

I run out and stress the urgency to the pharmacy and they dispatch another month’s supply next day delivery but say they are struggling.

We’re now into March and I still haven’t received the full prescription. I received my last two boxes on 16th March, some 2 months after my prescription date.

It’s so frustrating and causes so much anxiety but the situation is such at the moment that it looks like my next prescription will be the same!

Problems getting my prescription fulfilled

Over the past year, one of the things I’ve struggled with has been the problems getting my prescription fulfilled, despite taking my prescription to the same Pharmacy every time.

However, on presenting my last prescription these problems snowballed.

On every occasion I’ve had problems getting my prescription fulfilled and each time I have presented my private prescription the following has happened.

I present my prescription to the counter staff, they look at it like I’ve handed them a rancid dog turd. They then take this over to one of the dispensing pharmacists who takes my prescription, looks it over, turns to view the reverse, turns it back to the prescription side, and examines it in close detail.

He then takes it to another one of the pharmacists who does exactly the same. The record was four staff members before one of them deemed it important enough to come and speak to me. This is under the gaze of all the other customers in this busy, public pharmacy.

On the final visit to this pharmacy, another customer I was stood next to remarked, “They’re having a good old look at your prescription”

Eventually, a member of staff calls me by my dead name. I should explain because the NHS is quite backward my prescription still shows my dead name as changing my name by deed poll is proving slow. However, at the very top of my prescription are the words “preferred name” this has my new name on it and is supposed to be used by my healthcare providers. Be they doctors, pharmacists, or NHS workers. Using my new/preferred name in a medical environment rarely happens, which really fucks me off!

The pharmacists shout me over, not only by my dead name but by my old title!

I complained but this was met with the typical couldn’t give a shit response “Oh, sorry!”.

Do I look like a Mr?

Anyway, they tell me I have to pay the full amount as it’s a private prescription, despite going in there with a number of private prescriptions, I know this already.

“We don’t have all the drugs here but we’ll prepare what we have”

Great, but they took 40 minutes, and by the time I received these, I’d been in the pharmacy for 53 minutes.

On leaving I am told the remainder of my drugs will be ready for collection tomorrow at 11 am.

I return 2 days later as I am busy on the previous day.

On handing the counter staff the receipts I am told to wait, not what I want to hear as I’m in a rush and I was told that my prescription would be available the day before.

I sit and wait and one of the staff shouts me by my dead name. FFS!!!! really!

Now they don’t pull me to one side, perhaps to a quiet corner. No, full-on, in the middle of a shop full of people.

“There’s a problem with your prescription” calls me by my dead name again, “and it’s been placed on hold and we need to speak to head office”

What’s the problem? I was told my prescription would be ready yesterday and here I am 24 hours after I was told it would be ready.

“We don’t know, so you’ll have to wait until we speak to head office”

Okay, I don’t understand why either, but I am in a rush, are you on the phone to head office?

“We need to speak to head office so we’ll get back to you. Please wait”

10 minutes go by and another pharmacist comes over, calls me by my dead name yet again, and says we’re on the phone to head office.

I don’t understand what the issue is here as you’ve been fulfilling my prescription for a year.

Eventually, I am given my drugs, again after being called by my dead name!!!!!

I leave seething but with my prescription fulfilled by non the wiser why my prescription was put on hold.

Never ever, ever, again will I use this pharmacy.

Problems getting my prescription fulfilled: the complaint

After stewing all day I decide to complain and I put my words into an email and send this to the prescribing chemist’s head office.

This is a copy of that email.


I wish to make a complaint about the service at your Macclesfield Pharmacy located within *** ***** ***** ****** .

My complaint is in two parts.

Firstly, preferred name. There is a reason this is printed on the prescription. Perhaps your staff thinks it’s amusing to not use this and use my old name.

I am currently battling with the NHS to get my legal name changed on my NHS records, and even though the NHS has had my Elected Deed Poll they still seem to use my old name. If you are presented with a prescription that has a “preferred name” on it, surely it is polite to use that name? Especially in a crowded pharmacy!

If you look at the prescription provided it is clear to see this “preferred name”.

Secondly and more seriously!

For the past 12 months, I have been taking my private prescription to this pharmacy in the hope that by my repeat business the dispensary staff will become familiar with me and I will have no problems in fulfilling my prescription. As I said before my drugs are on a private prescription, not an NHS prescription and I already know I have to pay the full price for these.

However, on presenting my private prescription on Tuesday your staff still look at this private prescription as if I have handed them a rancid pork chop.

The person on the counter will look at said prescription in close detail and then go and seek another member of staff, point at me, and pass them my prescription, they then, in turn, look at the prescription, have a discussion, and then take it to another member of staff who then examines the prescription in the same fashion. This can be four or five members of staff handling my prescription, they each look at it, have a discussion, point at me, all this before somebody takes ownership of it and either comes over to discuss it with me or tell me that I will have to pay.

Something that I already know but the embarrassment factor of having my prescription passed around in a very busy environment will not happen again as I will categorically not be using this branch anymore. This has happened on each occasion I have presented my prescription.

On Tuesday the above happened and then I was told that you didn’t have the drugs in stock, not at problem with that, and the other items would be available for collection tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. I was partly presented with a third of my prescription, this was after waiting a frankly unacceptable 43 minutes. I am then told the rest would be ready to collect after 11:00 AM on Wednesday.

I went to collect these on Thursday 28th October just before 11 am and on presenting the receipts for the prescription I am told there is a problem with said prescription and could I take a seat, in full public view of everyone else in the pharmacy!

I take a seat and one of your staff members comes over to speak to me after 5 minutes and tells me that there is a hold on my prescription, I’m not told why at this point. I am not happy about this as I’m in a rush plus I’d been told my prescription would be ready 24 hours earlier and yet again I am expecting to wait.

“What do you mean a hold on my prescription?”

“Head office has placed a hold on your prescription, and we cannot dispense it until we have spoken to head office. You will need to wait until we have done this.”

“I’m sorry but I was told that my prescription would be ready for collection from 11:00 AM. It’s now 11:00 AM on Thursday morning, why is there a hold on my prescription? Are you on the phone to head office because I do not have the time to sit here for another 43 minutes as I did on Tuesday!”

“We are on the phone with them and we will come back to you shortly.”

After almost 10 minutes, a staff member comes back to me and tells me that there is a hold on my prescription because they need to check the company that has issued the prescription. This is head office doing this.

I question whether it is the company that has provided the prescription, which is Gender GP, or whether or not it is the Doctor who has written the prescription?

I am told that they do not know the answer to that question.

I may have appeared abrupt to your staff today but that is because I waited 43 minutes on Tuesday for part of my prescription and today I was expecting to walk in, provide my paperwork, pick up a bag, and walk out. Perhaps after a few minutes wait,

Instead, I find myself faced with a long wait and a problem not of my making.

This is both unfair and extremely unprofessional of ******!

I could say I was lied to, as I was told my prescription would be “available for collection” 24 hours earlier. Instead, I find myself having to deal with a problem, not of my making, so I make no apologies for appearing abrupt!

If there was a problem with my prescription then your staff had ample time between me initially presenting my prescription and collecting my pharmaceuticals to make that call to head office.

Why did I need to be present for you to do this?

Why did I need to be told this and embarrassed in front of the other customers present, both because my prescription was blocked and because you didn’t use my preferred name?

Why did I need to feel distressed and frustrated when I have presented private prescriptions from the same company, for the same drugs, and to the same pharmacy on numerous occasions?

Therefore, I ask you at ****** head office the following questions.

What was the problem with my prescription?

Was it because it was a private prescription? If so, why?
I cannot be the only person who presents a private prescription to this busy pharmacy.

Was it because it had been written by Gender GP? If so, why?
I have already spoken to Gender GP and they cannot understand why any pharmacy would take this action and also ask why?

Or, was the problem with the prescribing physician? If so, why?

As I stated before I will not be using this pharmacy again as I have found today very unprofessional.

I have spoken to others in the local transgender community about my treatment this week and on past visits. It appears other members of the community who have used this chemist in the past and presented private prescriptions that have had similar issues.

I look forward to your comments on why my prescription was blocked and the service provided and I will also be writing to the General Pharmaceutical Council on this matter as I feel that a number of the standards of the GPC may have been overlooked on this occasion and I seek clarification before I decide to make a full complaint.

Mikki


I sent this on Thursday 28th October and I received this reply back from the chemists head office.

I received the following response back on the 29th October


Dear Mikki,

I am so sorry to hear of your experience at our pharmacy in Macclesfield. I have tried to call you today to discuss in detail but have been unable to catch you and will try again next week

I sincerely apologise for how you were made to feel and will be investigating with the pharmacy manager regarding your complaint. The service you describe is not what I would expect from our team and I’m sorry for any upset caused

Kind Regards


Followed by this email on 3rd November


Dear Mikki,

I write further to my email last week to update you regarding the investigation I have conducted with the pharmacy manager regarding your complaint

We strive to give the very best of service to all our customers.  As a community pharmacy, we are very aware of the trust the local population put in our professionalism. I am very sorry that you have found it necessary to make such a complaint. We do take our customer comments and feedback very seriously

I sincerely apologise for how staff handled your prescription. For all private prescriptions we are required to check that the prescription is written correctly and satisfies regulatory requirements. One of these requirements is to check that the prescriber is registered with a license to practice. As your prescription was written by a non-UK prescriber based in Romania, the team contacted our Operations department for advice on this after initially not confirming the prescribers license to practice when they dispensed previous supplies. This has proven difficult as the Romanian medical council does not appear to have an easily accessible register to check like we have in the UK with the GMC. I sincerely apologise that these checks caused a delay for you receiving the owing medication

If Gender GP are able to provide further evidence of the prescribers registration with a separate body, rather than a link to the Gender GP website, this would be helpful for any future prescriptions we may receive from yourself or other patients if you were to use the pharmacy again. I have not been able to confirm the prescribers license to practice with the Romanian medical council so unfortunately have to put a stop on prescriptions written by Dr ****** at this moment in time

Yours Sincerely


So I sent the original email, and the two replies to Gender GP who replied within a few hours with this reply.


Dear Mikki,

Many thanks for passing this on to us.

It does seem odd they are unable to check Dr ******’s registration with the Romanian Medical Council, but I have provided her registration details below in case needed:

Dr. ******

Registered with the Romanian Medical Council – Reg no: ******,

Faculty of Medicine, *****, ******, ******, Bucharest 

I hope you are able to find an alternative pharmacy who is happy to dispense for you, a majority of pharmacies are more than happy to do this for our prescriptions. I once again apologize for the negative experience you have suffered on this occasion, and if there is anything we can do to help please let me know.

Best wishes,


I sent a copy of this back to the pharmacists head office, along with the email below, and as yet I haven’t received a reply. This is one of the reasons I have written this and put it on my blog.


Thank you for your email.

Firstly, I have passed your comments on to my prescribing clinic for their perusal and await their reply, as *****’s decision could negatively effect my health and well being especially if other pharmacies also decided this is a valid course of action. 

Your decision is disappointing but I understand your position but don’t fully comprehend this action after 12 months of fulfilling prescriptions at this pharmacy.

I guess transparency is paramount to your business but you must see hundreds of private prescriptions so I don’t fully understand why this doctor or Gender GP is singled out?

Gender GP do actually have a form on their website which doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals can ask for information and clarification on Gender GP prescriptions, doctors and procedures. This can be found at the address below, I will also pass on any relevant information presented to me by Gender GP to yourselves.

https://www.gendergp.com/help-centre/ask-gendergp-healthcare-professionals/

So, this takes care of the prescription delay but I will not use this pharmacy again as stated previously. I feel from my experience that the way they treat patients with private prescriptions leaves a lot to be desired. 

Just the way that these prescriptions are handled has left me feeling like a pariah. A lack of professional courtesy in pulling clients to a private area or calling clients by the preferred name on their prescriptions. Maybe this is a training issue? 

I will also say that I will be putting all this information on to my personal website at some point in the future. As a professional courtesy I will remove details of names of participants and organisations when I put this live. But it needs to be presented to help others who may encounter the same issues.

I write about my life as a transgender person and the mental heath issues/problems encountered/tribulations such as this, as well as the joys and happiness of trans life and I think this will help my 23,000+ subscribers in their daily life and to make both an informed choice about healthcare providers and how to resolve similar issues.

These issues have left an indelible mark on my psychie and furthered distrust for the organisations which “provide” healthcare, especially for those seeking help privately. 

To sum up, all I’d ask is that your customers are treated with dignity and respect and I don’t think this has happened on this occasion.

Regards
Mikki


I have as yet to receive a reply on this.

To sum up

I’ve called this section to sum up because there isnt as yet a conclusion to the problems getting my prescription fulfilled.

assumptionIf you have a private prescription ask in the local community where others get their prescription fulfilled. I wrongly, thought that using one of the largest pharmacists in Macclesfield would prove to be my best bet as the likelihood of encountering problems would be minimal. How wrong I was to assume this as I’d say my treatment is poor at best!

Vote with your feet if you get bad service from your health care medical provider. Do not put up with poor service, especially if staff can’t even be bothered to use your preferred name.

I have removed the names of all those involved and the prescribing chemists used at this time and I have found another chemist who is both more professional and also provides a much friendlier service.

As for the pharmacy above, I will ask for their comments on my last email one more time and if these are not forthcoming I will pass my complaint across to the General Pharmaceutical Council and let them handle it as I have yet to receive a satisfactory reason why they could not find my prescribing doctors details on a publically available register and why after over a year did they deem it appropriate to take this action.

Of course, I could just say, stop being petty and move on, but no. This is not just about the Pharmacy failing to provide a product but failure to provide a professional service in a manner befitting of a supposed professional company. A number of the questions I originally have still not been answered and from the lack of contact from said pharmacy company looks like they will not be in the future.

I have removed the names of parties involved to negate any possible legal actions.

Links

Gender GP

General Pharmaceutical Council

General Medical Council

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