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Constant 'mistakes' at chemist

Ann Mac

Registered User
Oct 17, 2013
I know that nothing will ever run 'smoothly' when you are caring for someone with dementia, but honestly, I've literally just held onto my temper by a thread at our local chemists - again :(

The chemist is in the same building as Mils GP's surgery. I put in a repeat prescription request every 4 weeks for Mil, by placing it in a box fixed to the wall in the surgery. A notice above says the meds will be ready in 48 hours. Well - for a start, I've given up on that one! Time and again, I go to collect the meds to find that they are not ready, the chemist insist that its actually 72 hours and the surgery insist 48. At other times, the excuse for them not being ready has been that the surgery didn't put the request through in time - which the surgery deny - So, I take no chances and the repeats go in a minimum of 3 days before required. It's annoying, but I long agao decided not to stress about it.

Which is just as well, because the chemist seem to delight in giving me plenty of other stuff to get worked up about.

Aside from the above, errors that have occurred many time - missing tablets from blister packs, descriptive lables not being updated to reflect a change in how a tablet looks (which makes it impossible to know if the meds in the pack are correct or not) being given only the blister packs and not the other medications including inhalers and two lots of tablets that for various reasons are not supposed to go into the packs - and on two occasions, no blister packs - just her inhalers and the separate tablets!

Last month, they excelled themselves. On lifting one of the new blister packs out to open it, I had a cascade of pills and tablets all over the kitchen floor - it hadn't been sealed properly. Some rolled under the kitchen units and there was a mad dash to gather the rest before our new (and not quite fully obedient) puppy managed to snarf any down. I wouldn't like to guess at what 10mg of respiredone could do to a tiny pup, would you? Never mind the fact that Mils meds were now thoroughly mixed up and those that were left had been on the floor. When I checked, 2 out of the remaining 3 packs were also incorrectly sealed and there were tablets at the bottom of the chemist bag where they had 'leaked' out. The chemist could not have been less bothered, merely saying they had wondered if the packs would hold, as there were such a lot of tablets in them (though they always had before) - no apology and looked at me as if I were stupid when I said that perhaps they could have warned me that they knew the packs were not sealed properly.

I've just come back for 'collecting' this months supply. It should have taken me maybe 15 minutes to pick up the meds and a couple of bits of shopping. Nearly 55 minutes after I left the house, I'm finally back home, seething again:( The girl handing over the meds casually mentioned that the 'doctor' had stopped one of Mils meds - first I had heard of it so of course I asked why - they didn't know, so I asked them to please check. Then I realised that yet again one of the separately boxed meds was missing - no, they said - we have put those tablets into the blister pack! And not only that, they had put them in with the evening tablets, when she takes them in the morning - arrrggghhhhhhhhhhhh!

They assured me they could sort all this 'quickly, within 10 minutes' so I carried on to the local shop, picked up the bread I wanted and went back - and waited and waited and waited. Finally the young girl approached me - she told me that they had left the missing tablet out because the GP had listed it as an 'acute' medication - given only as a one off - and therefore they weren't allowed to add it to the packs every month. I pointed out that it had been added to the packs every month since the GP prescribed SIX MONTHS ago, but she said she simply didn't know how that could happen. She added that SHE had spoken to the GP, he had rushed a script through and it was now being added to the packs. I waited for another 10 minutes or more, and finally the chemist emerged with the bag with Mils meds. She had a completely different story - she told me that the missing med HAD been in the blister pack all along, they hadn't had to do anything - it was just that the brand and name had changed, so they didn't realise what it was. The fact that I was given two differnt 'stories' as a reason for this 'mistake' is almost more worrying than the actual mistake - because one of them must have been lying :(

I dread dealing with the prescriptions every month - I have to spend ages checking each pack because I cannot rely on the chemist to get it right and I am so fed up of having no option but to go in there to tell them about each mistake, because their attitude makes me feel like I'm just being difficult and picky. The procedure to get repeat scripts sent to another chemist is complicated and would take me far longer to sort out - and it also means that if Mil needs an emergency script for an infection or something, I simply have no chance of getting the meds to her quickly.

Its just so frustrating and unecessary - surely I should be able to rely on the chemist to get the tablets right :(


Registered User
Mar 1, 2013
West Hertfordshire
i'd resign myself to taking it to the chemist, and waiting. Prob a different chemist too- and try and build a rapour with the new one. my mums chemist was perfectly happy to tell me which med was in which pod.


Registered User
Apr 9, 2012
Chemists - some are great


Chemists make good money out of regular prescriptions, and some of them are very good. I would suggest you give up on this bunch and try elsewhere. Some, for instance, will deliver (free) to an elderly or otherwise disabled patient. Also, some will set up automatic systems so they request the prescription from the GP, and all you have to do is collect.

Maybe order a week or 2 in advance - there's no rule stopping you. Also some GPs will go to 3-monthly prescriptions if they don't change. We've got plenty to deal with, and with Chemists, unlike lots of other aspects of care, we have a choice. Don't get mad, get moving to a better one!



Registered User
Jan 5, 2014
I refuse to use the pharmacist attached to my GPs after the mistake they made with my meds once. And their complete indifference at sorting it out when to me it felt like a matter of life and death (it may well have been for my son)- I was pregnant and suffering severely at the time with morning sickness/acute tiredness so their indifference when I picked up the replacement reduced me to tears, no apology no sympathy (this was medication aimed at preventing miscarriage following multiple miscarriages so I was very highly strung about it). I only spotted the error when I opened the pack to use it, and was at my MILs in rural Scotland on Boxing Day. I ended up having to phone the maternity ward at Liverpool women's to sort it out on the day. When I told the pharmacy this they just someone must have misread the prescription - these things happen.:eek:The practice I was with is in the same building as 3 others and so the chemist has a captive audience which it takes for granted.

I am surprised that another pharmacist can't deal with it. I use a pharmacy at the top of the road. I phone up the pharmacy when I need new meds (need to allow 48 hours plus their drop off and pick up time) and collect when ready. When I have needed stuff urgently it has been faxed through to them and issued the same day all over the phone. I would have thought they could automatically dispense blister packs monthly. My mum's does for her, and although she is in sheltered extra care accommodation, they clearly do it for all their elderly customers.

Grace L

Registered User
Jun 14, 2014
I am sorry Ann

I used to have numerous problems with collecting repeat prescriptions for my husband too.
You would think they would be used to large orders of repeat meds, but every few months I had the same problems. Didn't bother them though.... and they never apologise for mistakes.

Numerous phone calls to surgery to see if ready to collect, followed by several phone calls to pharmacy....
and when I got there, missing medication..... or IOU's notes for 2-3 little pills !!

The only time they paid attention was end-of-life, when the morphine my husband was on (pills),
had to be counted (and recounted x 2) for obvious reasons.

I never once complained, or made a fuss, just had to get used to the problem.


Registered User
Sep 22, 2013
Robin is right - if your MiL is classed as housebound, a good pharmacy will deliver. All you would need to do is request the repeat prescription, then check what's delivered in case a mistake has been made.

Having said that, I do sympathise as we've had all sorts of problems with Mum's meds. Writing letters doesn't help as the pharmacy staff don't read or understand them.

You may have to escalate this to the owner of the pharmacy as someone's well being is at risk.
Could Age UK help you?
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Registered User
Jul 8, 2014
The difference between a good pharmacist and a bad one can be massive. We have a pharmacy which is about 50 yds from our house and the pharmacist is always very welcoming ("Hello Mrs H, how are you and how is your husband").

He disappeared for a few months and there was a new person in who was hopeless. Things took much longer to arrive and there were always missing items or mistakes.

OH has gone in today to pick up his repeat prescription and, joy of joys, "Hello Mr H" is back. Can't tell you how happy that makes me

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
I would definitely switch chemists and put my reasons for doing so in writing - to both the chemist and the GP. Actually, is there some sort of chemists' organization which you can copy also? They need to learn a valuable lesson.


Registered User
Sep 27, 2006
I've been very lucky with a well known chain of chemists and never had any problems until a few weeks ago. The chemist phones me once a month to check what I want and then tells me a date I can collect or I can tell them to deliver the pack.

They suddenly stopped calling me and so I phoned them a week prior to needing my medicines. When I collected the pack of meds, two were missing. The chemist blamed the doctor's surgery and the doctor's surgery blamed the chemist.

I now call in to the chemists and tell them face to face what I need. So far, again no problems. I've accepted that a mistake was made but if a second mistake is made I will use another chemist. As someone else says chemists are paid for this service and should get it right.



Registered User
Oct 5, 2013
Fortunately we live more than the statutory mile from the gp, so get all meds from them. I order online as I want them and pick up at least two days later. It's good because if you get out of kilter they will correct it. Also handy because I can park next to it!
The only grumble I did have was when 28 pills were prescribed and the pack was 30, they should cut 2 off, meaning that occasionally you had 28 in small amounts, terrible for slightly arthritic fingers to manage. Having complained, if a pack is 30,, 30 are prescribed and I just don't request it the month I have enough spares. I find this easier, but I can understand this wouldn't suit everyone.
I put them in dosette boxes myself, far to complicated to work out for myself first thing in the morning!

I am appalled at your treatment, Ann Mac and others I am sure there is a Pharmaceutical Society of a Great Britain to whom you can complain. FIL was a pharmacist in the days when they made up their own pills!

Ann, you will be glad (?) to know that when I mistyped your name, it auto corrected to the right one!


Registered User
Aug 1, 2007


Registered User
May 21, 2014
Wow, this is terrible. I have to say our pharmacy are simply marvellous, all I need to do is call in every 4 weeks for the dossette box, sometimes it's made up already, sometimes it takes 5 minutes to fill. I have to call in three days before for the other "as and when needed" repeat prescriptions but have never had a problem before. They aren't fazed when I suddenly need 5 instead of 4 weeks because we are going away that week, and sort it out promptly. They are in the same building as our surgery and I think they've even won an award for great customer service.


Registered User
Oct 7, 2014
We must be very lucky! Mum's meds are delivered from the pharmacy every Tuesday in a dosette box. The driver puts the box throught the letter box, knocks on the door and waits in his car until Mum waves at him. It's one of the highlights of her week! The only difficulty is getting someone round to put the meds into the safe before Mum takes at least one extra day's tablets.


Registered User
Nov 16, 2008
We have just changed chemist. For years we went to the chemist attached to the GP surgery and they were brilliant. However it recently changed hands and the following incident happened to my husband when we picked up a repeat prescription....

"He opened the bag Sunday to discover that, rather than his blood pressure medication Amlodopine, they had prescribed a diuretic with a similar name, Amiloride. This left him without blood pressure medication this morning, so I was on the doorstep of the chemist at 8:30 am today!! What was worrying, was a second person had checked the medication. They were horrified and said they would look into it ....."

And they did. They had a supervisor visit to see how they stored their medications and it was also reported to the General Pharmaceutical Council with a recommendation that the two medications are stored on separate shelves. One medication is for heart, the other for kidneys


Registered User
Aug 24, 2013
Hi Ann Mac
You don't say where you are but if you're not "out in the sticks" somewhere then use a different chemist is the obvious answer, I collect prescriptions from the doctors and walk past the attached chemist as they're so bad, I won't go in there.
Most chemists will now order the repeat prescriptions for you, collect the prescription and deliver it to your home split up into those blister packs with the day and the time on (whatever they're called).
To be honest I think the best chemists are in supermarkets drop the prescription off do the shopping and pick it up on the way out, they usually stock everything and don't seem to cut up packs and give you 28 tablets in 6 different bits.

Ann Mac

Registered User
Oct 17, 2013
Thanks everyone, for your responses - really appreciate it :)

This chemist is the only one in the village we live in - not exactly out in the sticks, lol, but because the next nearest one means a run into town I've put up with them - till now. But the last two months especially have been beyond a joke, and as so many of you advise, I think I have to sort an alternative out :( On Monday, I'm going into the surgery to ask if scripts can be faxed to the very large and well known chemist on the small retail park on the edge of town - I honestly don't know if they will do that, their system seems to be that all repeats go automatically to the attached chemist, but I can ask. If they won't send the script to a different chemist, then I will just have to resign myself to the inconvenience of picking up the script, driving into town to drop it off and then, if it can't be done while I wait, going back again to collect it when it is ready - or maybe they will deliver (fingers crossed). It might be inconvenient - but after yesterday and last month, I doubt if it will be any more inconvenient (or frustrating) than using this local chemist!

I think a good bit of the reason why I was absolutely raging yesterday is the attitude that I keep encountering. Whilst they are polite and even friendly if my dealings with them are straightforward, as soon as there is a mistake I'm met with indifference and an attitude that suggests that I'm some sort of trouble causer, no matter how polite I am. I'm often left feeling that they think I am 'picky' and kick up a fuss about nothing - the incorrect labels are a big bug bear in particular. Mil takes 13 tablets from the blister pack in the morning alone, if one or two pills don't correspond with the description's given then it means another trip to the chemist to check, because I can't risk a mistake. If the label says that there should be a small white oval tablet, then I just can't assume that the mysterious small round red tablet is the same thing, just a different brand. Several months ago, they substitued the aspirin that Mil used to take for a soluable version - the label hadn't been changed, so it was only by checking that I found out - if I hadn't checked, she would have been taking them without disolving them, which I believe can potentially cause problems. The same thing with tablets being shifted round from morning to night, or vice versa, without explanation or the labels being changed - I have to check that its appropriate for her to take that med at a different time, because I assume that they were prescribed to be taken at morning or night for a reason? I'm not a chemist, haven't a clue about these things so I won't take the chance - but as I said, I'm often left feeling like I'm kicking up a fuss about nothing :(

There's also the fact that occasionally, Mil is 'switched on' enough to demand to check herself - if the number and/or description of the tablets doesn't correspond with the labels, then she can (and has) gone into paranoia mode and refused to take her meds because we are 'poisoning ' her :rolleyes: I've explained this to the chemist too - and from the response (looking at each other rolling their eyes/big sighs) it seems like they consider it neither a big deal nor their problem :(

So - added to my constant long list of 'things to do for Mil this week' is changing the chemist, asap!

Thank you again everyone x


Registered User
Jan 29, 2009
I think when you say to the surgery why you want to change, you should tell them why, in detail. I am sure, with all the stresses you have with MiL, you don't need more hassle but this could be extremely serious for someone as I am sure you are not the only this happens to and others may not be as vigilant for whatever reason.

Maybe you could copy some of the detail here into an email and send to the practice / pharmacy manager and also maybe the Clinical Commissioning Group?


Registered User
Jan 5, 2014
It may be worth speaking to your chemist of choice and see how they normally do it.

They may be able to do it all on a phone call from you and deliver to you. Although then not easy to sort problems out.

Your comments about indifference certainly ring true when they made the mistake with my meds, (daily injection to prevent miscarriage after 3 in 12 months) whereas the chemist I go to now, recognise me and my daughter (she picks stuff up sometimes - we both have asthma and so not weekly but every month or so) and know what we need.

Ann Mac

Registered User
Oct 17, 2013
Just an update

I ran out of time to sort out the chemist on Monday, but yesterday it was top of my list of things to do.

A phone call to the chemist I want to use first of all. They are happy to collect the scripts from the surgery - apparently already do just that for 'quite a few' patients from there. However, any scripts are made up at the other branch of their chemist, across the other side of town (where the only parking costs a minimum of £4), and so I'd have to go into either branch to fill in the paperwork necessary to allow me to collect from the nearer branch. OK - tell them I'll be in around 10am, when the duty pharmacist should be there - its only the pharmacist can sort this paperwork, apparently.

Next stop, phoned surgery - and a get a new 'receptionist', who whilst really trying to be helpful, clearly didn't have much of a clue about anything and who managed to cut me off twice, while putting me on hold! So, I decided to visit the surgery in person - I explained the situation and the response was apologetic, unimpressed with the chemist's mistake - and overall, pretty much not surprised. I was told a 'lot' of patients now 'prefer' to use an alternative service - which I guess speaks volumes. I was told my 'concerns' would be passed on, and it took about 2 minutes for them to make the necessary changes on their computer system to ensure Mils script goes to the alternative chemist.

On to the new chemist, to find there was a locum pharmacist in residence - and he wasn't 100% sure how to fill in the paperwork to ensure Mil's meds goes to the nearer branch, so I will have to return on Friday, when the regular pharmacist is back to make sure that its all done properly - aside from making sure that the meds go to the right place for collection, I need to make sure that they are clear that there are 2 PRN inhalers/sprays that I don't need to order every month, and that they understand that two of her tablets don't go into a blister pack.

So, a bit of a pain to reorganise, but near enough sorted now and hopefully, an end to the stress of the constant mistakes from the other place. The next time I speak to the GP, I will raise the issue again and ask if the 'concerns' were passed on - and what (if anything) might be done. As several of you have pointed out, some of these mistakes could have serious consequences, so I can't just 'leave it' - tempting as it is, because as we all know, we have enough to do anyway.

Thanks again for everyones responses and help :) x


Registered User
Oct 5, 2013
When I was making up boxes at the weekend, one of my tablets appeared in 3 different forms. If I didn't have the original packet, how would one ever check that? I just hope I got it right.
As I think I've said before, I wish all tablet of one type stayed the same, whoever the manufacturer.

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