Chapter 08: Prescriptions
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Please Note: The following is only relevant to the United Kingdom. Patients in other countries should contact their own hospital or Patient Support/Ostomy Chapter for correct information regarding prescription services and product availability.
All the appliances and accessories mentioned in the last chapter are available on prescription.
When you are discharged from hospital the Stoma Nurse will give you a list of the items you are currently using and their appropriate order numbers. These numbers are very useful as even if nothing else was written on the prescription list your supplier would know exactly which is required.
Once you have your prescription there are a number of places you can get it dispensed.
Firstly there is your normal everyday chemist. They will not have the bags in stock and it will be necessary for them to order them especially for you. This can take up to a week.
Or you may want to try a specialist home delivery service. These are companies that supply only Ostomy products and their warehouses stock every single item that is currently available on prescription, and deliver to your door free of charge regardless of whether you order one box or thirty boxes.
There are loads of different companies to send your prescription to, all offering the same services. They all offer a free cut-to-fit service (so long as you supply the stoma template), free disposal bags and wipes. Some companies can be stingy with the wipes. If you need more than what they usually supply don't be afraid to write this on your prescription. If they want your order they'll send you more wipes! Finally they all offer free delivery, freepost envelopes to send your prescriptions in and most importantly a freephone number in case of emergency.
If you have any problems with your stoma and are unable to contact your Stoma Nurse you can call one of these companies with your customer number and ask to speak to the in-house Stoma Nurse, for expert advice.
You'll also find that the home delivery companies will be prepared to bend the rules for you. For example if you ran out of bags or flanges and had been unable to get your prescription from the doctor in time, you can phone the companies with your requirements and they will forward the items to you, all you need do is get the prescription for the items they have sent you, back to them, as quickly as possible.
If you went to your local chemist and asked for an advanced order it is unlikely he will be able to accommodate you.
With time you'll find one you like and will settle with. Until then these companies will clamber to dispense your prescription for you. It is obviously a big business and they bribe you to try their service by offering free travels bags, scissors, phone cards or skin lotions with first orders. By the end of it you could have a cupboard full of travel bags and complimentaries. Some companies also offer extra little incentives that no one else does like offering to make a donation to your local patient association with every prescription they receive or to other ostomy-related charities
You can still take your prescription to your local chemist but you will generally find it easier and more convenient to send it to a Home Delivery Service. The Chemist does not cut flanges, or supply free wipes and disposal bags. These would have to be purchased separately.
Once you settle on a certain product you'll be able to order up to three months supply in advance on your prescription. Believe me, three months supply is a big box full, and it would be awkward carrying them back from the chemist. The home delivery services deliver to the door and take the hard work out of the task for you, usually with a next day service, although some can take a week. The parcels are usually delivered by courier and may need a signature.
Regardless of with whom you have your prescription dispensed you should start thinking about reordering once you only have enough supplies for a fortnight. This way even in the event of the lengthiest delay possible you should still have more than enough to see you through to delivery.
Once you've had the Colostomy you'll find you are exempt from prescriptions for the duration of the time you have the Stoma. To apply for the exemption certificate you need to fill in form P11 which is available from your local Health authority, although the Stoma Nurse will probably have tucked one in the discharge pack you were given when you left hospital.
When you read the form you'll see that it says the exemption is only for people who have permanent Colostomys. If you had a temporary Colostomy do not panic, you should still be able to claim. So long as there is no sign of a reversal in the near future your GP should have no hesitation in signing the declaration for you, after all you could have this Colostomy for years, if not life, and it would be unfair to say that is temporary.
Before you send off your prescription to the home delivery service, or take it to be dispensed at your local chemist, it is vital that you fill in the declaration on the back, otherwise you'll be charged full whack for the products and that would be one hefty bill especially when you consider that at the moment a tube of Stoma Paste costs 10 off prescription! That's why these companies are so keen to get your order, why they can afford to encourage you to try their service with goodies and will be more than willing to supply you extra wipes if you asked for them.