HEALTH bosses have apologised for inconvenience caused to patients as a result of changes to how repeat prescriptions are issued.

But they say the change - which means people can no longer order repeat prescriptions from pharmacies - will make the process safer, save money and be better for the environment.

Patients need to make repeat prescription requests by either using the NHS App, ordering online or dropping repeat slips into their surgery from September 1 thanks to a new policy introduced by the clinical commissioning group (CCG).

But councillors told health bosses that some residents are unhappy with the change - and Cllr Martin Rowley joked that it might be easier to “get into Fort Knox” than sign into the NHS App.

Dr Andrew Lee, executive director of primary care at the CCG, said he was sorry the change had troubled people but that it would help make prescribing safer: “I do apologise for the inconvenience that it’s caused. This initiative will have caused some inconvenience for some patients. We acknowledge that.

“Neighbouring CCGs [that have made similar changes] told us they experienced very little patient unhappiness.

“We thought this was a fairly small policy change, we did not expect this level of upset.”

But he said some people end up stockpiling medicines - which can be dangerous as some drugs become toxic when they go out of date.

He added that £15,000-worth of unused medication was returned to one GP practice in Harrogate in a single week - and that the money could better be used on child mental health or hospital services.

He said vulnerable patients will still be able to get their repeat prescriptions from pharmacies and the change will cause “a bit of work but not too much” for GP surgeries.

“We have got a flawed process which we are trying to make safer,” he said.

“It generates a little bit of inconvenience for patients, it generates a bit of work but not too much in the grand scheme of things.”

Cllr Pete Kilbane said: “People will go to the pharmacist, the pharmacist will say 'you need to go to the doctor', they think 'well it’s going to take me three weeks to get an appointment.' You can imagine the level of stress and concern that has caused.”

Cllr Rowley praised the NHS app but said: “I think I could probably get into Fort Knox easier than installing the app and the online verification.”

“I have to say the phone app is brilliant once you venture to get into it.”

But he asked for more to be done to make it user friendly.