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Removing Prescription Phone Line, Case Study

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Derby Road Health Centre in Lenton has kindly shared how they encouraged their patients to use  the Notts NHS App to order repeat prescriptions which reduced the number of telephone calls that were made to their practice. This gave them additional capacity to answer other incoming calls quicker and to fulfil other duties. 


If you already have the Notts NHS App, please spread the word with your peers, friends and family.  This is a great way of helping ease the workload of the NHS at this critical time.

Author: Connected Nottinghamshire

Posted: 23-04-2021


Objective: Reduction in telephone calls

By encouraging patients to order their repeat prescriptions digitally, GP practices will experience a reduction in telephone calls, which will enable the practice to have additional capacity to answer other incoming calls quicker and to fulfil other duties.


With COVID-19 preventing patients from being able to request their repeat prescriptions at the GP practice, patients have resorted to ordering their repeats by telephone. For some GP practices, this has caused an immense amount of pressure on their already busy phone lines, with Derby Road Health Centre advising “the volume received could not be sustained”.


To help reduce the number of the additional 200 calls that were being made to the practice per week for repeat prescriptions, Derby Road decided to turn off their repeat prescription phone line and encourage patients to use digital offerings as an alternative. Derby Road advised “generally this decision was well received by the majority of patients”.

To prepare for this, Derby Road spent one month promoting and encouraging patients to register for the NHS App and other digital services such as SystmOnline before turning the prescription phone line off, which saw them receive over 325 new patient registrations between January-March 2021.

Since making this change, Derby Road were asked whether pressure had been reduced on practice staff in relation to the number of incoming phone calls to the GP practice. Derby Road replied “Yes, absolutely, the volume received could be quite overwhelming for staff with time being freed up to carry out all other necessary responsibilities within the practice”.

The practice was also asked how patients were able to order repeat prescriptions should they not have access to the NHS App. Derby Road responded, “Staff will still take prescription requests over the telephone if the patient was elderly, vulnerable or did not have online access”. Derby Road was also asked whether they had received any positive comments from using the NHS App for prescriptions. They stated, “Not really, people are less likely to give positive feedback than they are to complain but we’ve not received any significant number of negative comments either.”

Compared to the month of January 2021 where Derby Road was still receiving prescription requests via telephone and received 78 NHS App prescription requests, the practice is now seeing 148 prescription requests being ordered per month through the NHS App. On average, a repeat prescription phone call would take 2 minutes per request.


From removing the option for patients to order prescriptions via telephone, Derby Road have experienced the following benefits:

Type of Benefit



Non-cash releasing

Reduction of phone calls

Derby Road Health Centre have seen a significant reduction in the number of calls being made to the GP practice which has reduced pressure on staff and enabled the practice to complete other tasks.

Non-cash releasing

Patient time saving

Patients will save at least the two minute phone call to the GP practice as well as any additional waiting time on the telephone.

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