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Your hospital stay and medicines


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If you are coming into hospital you might have questions about your medicines, and what will happen to them during your stay in hospital.

This information will answer some of your questions about bringing in your medicines from home. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to a doctor, nurse or pharmacist looking after you.

Talking to a pharmacist while you are in hospital

Almost all the wards have a pharmacy team that visit every day. They can answer any questions or concerns you have about your medicines. 

If you would like to speak to a pharmacist, you can approach them on the ward, or you can ask one of the nurses to contact them.

Bringing your medicines into hospital from home 

It is important for the team looking after you to know about all the medicines that you are taking. This is so they can make sure you are given the right medicines in hospital.

  • Remember to bring any inhalers (puffers), creams, patches, drops or injections that you use, as well as tablets, capsules and liquids.
  • If you get your medicines in a blister pack or pill box, bring that into hospital with you.
  • Tell your hospital team if you buy any over-the-counter (without prescription) medicines, or if you take any herbal supplements or vitamins.

The doctor, nurse or pharmacist might check how you take your medicines. For example, how you use an inhaler for asthma, or how you use an injection pen for diabetes. By bringing your medicines into hospital they can check that they are the most suitable medicines for you.

If you find it difficult to remember what medicines you take and how often, it’s a good idea to keep an up to date list. Bring this list, or your repeat prescription request form, into hospital with you.

If you bring your own medicines into hospital, you may be able to take them yourself (rather than the nursing staff giving them to you).

Read more information about self-administration of medicine in hospital.

If you cannot bring your medicines into hospital

Don’t worry if you cannot bring your medicines into hospital. If possible, ask a friend or relative to bring them in when they come and visit. If not, the hospital can give you the medicines you need during your stay.

Your ward will keep some of the most common medicines in stock. Other medicines will be ordered from the pharmacy. 

Although the hospital keeps a lot of medicines, it is not possible to keep all medicines. If you do not bring your medicines into hospital with you and the hospital does not stock them, you might need to change to another, similar, medicine. If there is no similar medicine, the hospital will order your medicine for you, but this might take a few days.

Storing your medicines in hospital

Any medicines that you bring into hospital are your own property. They will be stored securely on the ward, usually in a locked medicines cabinet beside your bed. If you change wards during your stay, you will take your medicines with you.

The medicines you bring into hospital will be given back to you before you leave hospital. If your medicines change, then any that you no longer need can be disposed of by the hospital if you do not want them.

Medicines when you leave hospital

When you leave hospital, you will be given:

  • any new medicines, such as antibiotics or painkillers
  • any medicines that have changed (for example, if the amount you take has increased)
  • a replacement of your own medicines, if these have been used up in hospital and you have less than 14 days treatment with you or at home

The hospital will not give routine long-term medicines that your GP prescribes for you if there have been no changes during your hospital stay. You will need to get more of these medicines from your GP.

Getting more medicines after you leave hospital

You will get a copy of your discharge letter, which will also be sent to your GP. This letter will list all of your medicines and any changes made during your hospital stay. Your GP will then be able to give you a prescription for any medicines, which you can get at your local pharmacy.

Remember that your GP might need 48 hours to issue the prescription, and they might need to see you first. Please make sure you contact them in plenty of time before your medicines run out.



Ref number: 3062/VER2

Date published: January 2019 | Review date: January 2022

© 2021 Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

A list of sources is available on request

Where next?

 Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about your medicines, please speak to the staff caring for you or call our Pharmacy Medicines Helpline.

Phone: 020 7188 8748, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm


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