Homecare medicines service
Some medicines that the hospital prescribes can be delivered directly to your home address or another convenient address, such as your workplace. You do not have to wait to collect your medicine in the hospital pharmacy or carry it home.
The hospital sends the prescriptions to a homecare company. They prepare and deliver the medicines to you.
This service is only available for some medicines. You get other medicines in the usual way, either from the hospital pharmacy or from your local pharmacy if you have a GP prescription. Please ask the hospital team caring for you if you are unsure.
When you join the homecare medicines service, the first delivery may take a few weeks. To make sure you have medicines during this time, your doctor can give you a prescription to collect from the hospital pharmacy.
To get your prescriptions, you must still attend your appointments and check-ups.
How to register
The clinical team at the hospital ask questions to check if the homecare medicines service is suitable for you.
You must have a mobile or landline phone number that the homecare company can use to contact you.
Homecare delivery companies can currently only offer their services in English. If necessary, you may need to ask them to contact a family member or friend who speaks English on your behalf. This person is called a designated representative.
The clinical team help you to complete the registration form for the service. They also ask for your permission (consent) to use the service. We need your consent to share your information with the home delivery company. They can then set up your account and arrange your deliveries. The homecare company keep your details confidential.
When you are registered with the homecare company, you get an information pack. This includes contact details for a customer service team. You can call them if you have any questions or concerns about your medicines being delivered.
For some treatments, the homecare company may help to train patients and carers on how to give the medicines. The clinical team at the hospital give you more information if this applies to you.
If you would like to change the way you get your medicines, contact your hospital team.
When you set up the homecare medicines service, the homecare company asks you if you want to nominate a designated representative.
You might want to choose a designated representative if you need help:
- communicating with the homecare service in English
- taking deliveries of medicine, which must be signed for
If you need to change your designated representative, contact the homecare company as soon as possible to prevent any delivery problems.
Delivery of your medicines
You need to communicate directly with the homecare company about deliveries of your medicine. Every time you have a new prescription, they contact you to arrange the delivery. These calls are from a withheld number.
If the homecare delivery company cannot contact you, your medicines supply may be delayed until they can do so.
Delivery times and days
The specific day and time depend on your location and what you agree with the homecare provider.
Deliveries are usually between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.
You may get the option to choose your delivery slot online or by telephone. The information pack from the homecare provider gives more details if this option is available.
Most companies offer a text message service on the day of delivery. You then know exactly what time to expect your medicines.
Deliveries usually arrive when you have about 2 weeks’ supply of medicine left. Please tell your home delivery company if you have less than 2 weeks' supply of medicines. This gives enough time to arrange your delivery before you have no medicine left. Please also let them know if you have more medicines than you need.
Discrete and confidential delivery
The drivers who deliver the medicines carry ID cards and drive unmarked vans. They understand the need for discretion and confidentiality. You get your medicines in plain delivery packaging.
All deliveries need a signature. You or your designated representative (who must be aged 16 or older) can sign for the delivery.
If your contact details change
Please tell the hospital clinical team and pharmacy staff (when handing in a prescription) if your address or contact details change.
You must also contact the homecare company directly to give them the new contact information.
If you or your designated representative cannot take delivery at the arranged time, please try to contact the homecare company at least 48 hours in advance. You need to rearrange delivery with the homecare company.
If you're going to be away
If you are going away and a delivery is due, your medicines can be delivered to another address in the UK.
There are restrictions to this service. The homecare company need 2 weeks’ notice to make arrangements. They cannot deliver the medicines outside the UK.
Medicines and going abroad
If you're travelling to another country outside the UK and need extra medicines, please give the hospital clinical team and the homecare company 4 weeks’ notice. They can then deliver extra medicines to your UK address and give you a travel letter if you need one.
Travel insurance to cover the cost of medicines
It's important to declare your medical condition when you buy travel insurance. Otherewise, the travel insurance company might refuse to help if your condition gets worse or you become unwell.
You need to check if the cost of replacing medicines is covered. This is important if you travel to countries with private healthcare systems, such as the USA. The cost of medicines is much higher in these countries.
Please think about what you would do if your medicines are lost or stored incorrectly. Take a copy of the most recent clinic letter from your doctor with you.
Storing medicines abroad
Think about how you will store any medicines that need to be refrigerated.
Some medicines can be stored out of the fridge for a short time. For medicines that cannot be stored out of the fridge, the homecare company may be able to give you cool bags for travelling.
It's important that you store your medicines correctly. Although it is free for homecare medicines to be delivered, you may have to pay for the re-supply of medicines that have been lost or stored incorrectly.
You can check if the costs of replacing medicines are covered in your home contents insurance.
All medicines should be stored out of sight and reach of young children.
Medicines that need to be stored in a fridge
Make sure that your fridge is in good working order before the first delivery. You may prefer to buy a mini-fridge to store your medicines separately.
If you do not have a fridge that works, please tell your specialist pharmacist or nurse. They can then arrange to postpone the delivery of your medicines.
If you leave a medicine out of the fridge, or your fridge is broken, please read the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine. It may give helpful information.
You can also call our medicines helpline on 020 7188 8748 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Do not use the medicine until the hospital has confirmed that it is safe to do so.
Although you might not need to come to the hospital for prescriptions, you must still:
- go to your clinic appointments
- participate in any follow-up consultations (by telephone, email or online clinics)
- take part in any monitoring of your condition, such as blood tests
We cannot give you prescriptions unless you go to these check-ups. If you do not go to appointments or follow-up consultations, this might stop or delay your treatment.
Make sure that you (or your designated representative) are available at the arranged delivery time.
If you need to change or discuss your delivery date or delivery address, try to contact the homecare company in advance. They can then give you another suitable delivery slot.
More about private homecare services
Private companies offer the homecare medicines service. They are registered to provide medicines and medical treatments.
The company that we use depends on which medicine or treatment you have. If we change the homecare company that we use, we let you know.
We value your opinion. It is important that you tell a member of the clinical team or pharmacy if you have any problems with your medicines being delivered. We may ask you to complete questionnaires. This helps us to monitor the quality of the service from the homecare company.
You can stop using the service at any time by contacting your hospital clinical team. This does not affect your future care.
Resource number: 4272/VER2
Last reviewed: November 2019
Next review: November 2022