A NSW Government website

Medications and prescriptions

Getting medicine for your child can be confusing and overwhelming. Don't worry! We have some information to help you understand how to access the medicine that your child needs and where to get help if you need it.

Keeping medication lists up to date

It is important to keep an up-to-date list of medicines to take to all of your child’s appointments and to hospital.

You can use an app like the NPS MedicineWise App or a printable Emergency Care Plan to help with medication lists. It is important to show this list to your healthcare team if your child goes to the hospital.

Creating a list can be complicated. If you need help to create your child’s medication list or learn how to use the MedicineWise App, you can ask your child’s doctor/GP for a Home Medicines Review or reach out to a support service like Carer Gateway.

Going to hospital? Ask for a medication review

If your child has an admission to hospital you can ask your nurse or doctor for a medication review. Regular medication reviews are a good idea, especially when your child:

  • Has 5 or more different medicines prescribed.
  • Takes more than 12 doses of medicines per day.
  • There has been a recent mix up of, or missing medication.
  • Is taking medications that have been described to you as ‘high risk’.
  • Has recently had big changes to medicines or their treatment plan.
  • Won’t take the medication.
  • Has impaired kidney or liver function.
  • Has been in hospital very recently or is often admitted to hospital.

Or if:

  • You find it hard to understand the different prescriptions.
  • You get your child’s medication from different chemists at different times.
  • You use tab timers or webster packs and there are issues with using these.
  • You don’t think your child’s medication is working.

What are prescriptions?

Prescriptions are special notes written by a doctor/GP or specialist that tell you which medicine to take. The note includes important details like how much medicine to take and when to take it. It helps the pharmacist know what medicine to give you.

Types of prescriptions

In Australia, there are different kinds of prescriptions for your child:

  • Prescriptions covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
  • Private prescriptions.
  • Hospital prescriptions.

The main differences between them are who can write them, where you can fill them, and how much they cost. Your child might have different types of prescriptions that can be filled at hospitals or community pharmacies.

Who writes the prescription and where can they be filled?

Some medicines are on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). That means the government (Medicare) helps pay for them if you have certain conditions. Your regular doctor/GP or a specialist can write these prescriptions for you.

Private prescriptions are written by doctors (your GP or specialist) and can be filled at any community pharmacy. These prescriptions are not on the PBS, so you or your private health insurance have to pay the full cost of the medicine.

Hospital prescriptions are written by doctors or specialists who work in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. You can get the medicine from the hospital pharmacy or some community pharmacies that are linked to the hospital. Hospital prescriptions are for medicines that may not be on the PBS or for patients staying in the hospital.

Prescription costs

There are different costs for PBS, private, and hospital prescriptions.

For PBS and hospital prescriptions, you pay a part of the cost called a co-payment. The government helps pay the rest. How much you pay for the co-payment depends on if you have a concession card or not. You can ask the pharmacist about the co-payment amount.

Private prescriptions are not helped by the government, so you have to pay the full price. If you have private health insurance, it might cover some of the cost. You can ask the pharmacist about the price for a private prescription.

The kind of prescription you get depends on your situation, the treatment your child needs, and if it meets the rules for the PBS. Your doctor/GP can tell you which prescription is best for you.

If you spend a lot on PBS prescriptions each year, you may be able to apply for a PBS Safety Net Care to help keep your costs down.

Tips for managing your child's medications

If you live in a rural area, talk to your treating team (doctors and nurses) about where to get each prescription filled. Also, check if you need to pick up medicine from the hospital before going home or if you can get it from a local hospital. Make sure you have enough medicine and prescriptions to last until the next appointment.

Talk to your healthcare team if you have any worries or questions about getting medicine for your child. Your doctor/GP or pharmacist can help and give you advice. They want to make sure your child gets the right medicine at the right time.