Prescribing for Travel Policy

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Prescribing Policy for Patients travelling/ living abroad

NHS patients travelling for 3 months or less

Under NHS legislation, the NHS ceases to have responsibility for people when they leave the UK.  However, to ensure good patient care the following guidance for prescribing is offered:

Pre-existing Condition

Medication required for a pre-existing condition should be provided in sufficient quantity to cover the journey and allow the patient to obtain medical attention abroad.  

If the patient is returning within the timescale of a normal prescription (usually 1 and no more than 3 months) then this could be issued, providing it is clinically appropriate.

Of course, the actual length of any prescription would depend on the GPs clinical judgement.

'Just-in-case' Treatments

GPs are not required to provide prescriptions for medication pertaining to non-pre-existing conditions that is requested solely in anticipation of the onset of an ailment whilst outside the UK, but for which treatment is not required at the time of prescribing (e.g. travel sickness, diarrhoea).  

Patients should be advised to purchase these items locally prior to travel; advice is available from community pharmacists if required.  A private prescription may be provided for any prescription-only medicines.

For conditions unresponsive to self-medication, the patient should normally seek medical attention abroad.


NHS patients living or travelling abroad for more than three months of the year

An NHSFP10 prescription can be issued to a patient for up to 3 month's supply. If the patient requires medication for a longer duration, it may be possible for a private prescription to be issued at the discretion of your GP to cover the additional supply.

If your GP is happy to issue a private prescription, this can then be taken to a Pharmacy (not a GP Dispensary) to be dispensed and the medication paid for.

For longer visits abroad, i.e. where the patient lives out of area for part of the year, the patient should be advised to register with a local doctor for continuing medication, where possible. These supplies of medication(s) may need to be paid for by the patient. It is wise for the patient to check with the manufacturer that medicines required are available in the country being visited.

Your GP practice is required to deregister a patient who they know or suspect to be residing outside the UK for three months or more.

Patients should also be advised to check whether there are any restrictions on taking their medicine(s) in and out of the UK or the countries they are visiting or passing through. Different countries have different rules and regulations about the types of medication they allow to be taken into the country and the maximum quantities allowed. Of course, this is of particular importance for controlled drugs as their legal status varies between countries.

If you have a concern/query about this NHS policy, please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service for Suffolk.