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Portsmouth CCG leads NHS Digital electronic prescription upgrade

Portsmouth has become the first area in the country where prescriptions for all patients are able to be sent electronically.

NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been piloting the latest improvements to the Electronic Prescription Services (EPS) – known as Phase 4. As part of these improvements, prescriptions for all patients can be sent using the more efficient digital system.

Previously, this was only the case for those who have chosen a regular nominated dispenser.

EPS saves the NHS time and money by reducing the amount of paper processing required across the healthcare service, by GPs, pharmacists and the NHS Business Services Authority.

Portsmouth CCG have become the first in the country to have 100% roll out of EPS to their GP practices. Once national roll out of NHS Digital system occurs, it is estimated it will save the NHS £130m a year.

From a patient perspective, there is little to no change to the process of being prescribed medicines by their GP or in how they request and collect them from their community pharmacy.

Those who do not have a nominated pharmacy will still receive a paper copy of their prescription listing what medicines have been prescribed, but this will also contain a barcode. Pharmacy staff will then scan this barcode to download their electronic prescription from the secure NHS database – the NHS Spine.

Patients who do have a nominated pharmacy will still have their prescriptions sent electronically without needing a paper copy.

Simon Cooper, director of medicines optimisation at NHS Portsmouth CCG, said: “Implementing EPS Phase 4 across the city has been a very straightforward process for us and we are already beginning to see the benefits.

“Moving from what was essentially a paper-driven process to an approach which is primarily digitally-focused means much greater efficiency for our GP practices and dispensing pharmacies in terms of time and accuracy, and this can only be positive for patients, too.

READ MORE: NHS Digital hits back at rising pressure with electronic prescription pilot launch

READ MORE: National Pharmacy Association: Community pharmacy in the digital age

“It’s also helping to create a much more accurate picture for us in terms of assessing prescribing data, which we can now do more quickly and with a greater degree of confidence in the information we are reviewing.”

Richard Ashcroft, programme director for medicines and pharmacy at NHS Digital, added: “This is a major step forward for patients, GPs and pharmacists. Portsmouth CCG have worked hard to introduce EPS Phase 4 and we look forward to other areas of the country following their lead soon.

“Every single prescription that is sent electronically, rather than via paper, saves money for the NHS as less time and valuable resource is spent processing and storing the paper prescriptions.”


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