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Medication for patients travelling abroad

The LMC has been asked whether practices can issue medications for patient’s travelling abroad. The BMA has good advice about this which is available on the BMA website.

Patients travelling abroad for up to three months

  • Practices can issue medications for patients travelling abroad, and this can be for up to a duration of three months.
  • It is the patient’s responsibility to check that the medication can be carried and used legally in the destination country.

Patients travelling abroad for more than three months

  • When a patient leaves the UK for more than three months they are no longer eligible for NHS services and prescriptions, thus GP practices should not issue medication for the period for after the first three months.
  • NHS regulations do not allow practices to issue private prescriptions to their registered patients for medications which are available on the NHS. Thus a private prescription should not be issued for the period after the first three month’s absence.
  • When a patient is not in the UK for three months or more, theoretically they are no longer a patient of the practice, and should thus be de-registered. At this time a private prescription could be issued. However, the patient is not in the UK and the prescription is only redeemable in the UK, so this is not an option.
  • As a patient who is absent from the UK for more than three months is no longer eligible for NHS services, issuing a prescription for a patient’s friend or relative to redeem after the three month point is technically fraud, so practices should not do this either.
  • Thus, patients must find a source for their medications in the country that they are travelling to. If their usual medication is not available in the destination country, then the patient should discuss available alternatives to swap to with their GP before they leave the UK.