NHS IT, Records and Data

21.10.19

Full roll-out of electronic prescriptions to save NHS £300m in three years

Final phase of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) rolled out across the country, making prescription processing digital.

Recent developments to EPS, known as Phase 4, have made it possible for all patients to be sent their prescriptions through a more efficient, electronical system.

Electronic prescriptions, issued to a ‘nominated dispenser’ currently only account for 70% of prescriptions in England as of September 2019.

This new system will not only save patients time, but it as also been estimated that it will save the NHS £300m by 2021.

Time and money are saved by reducing paper processing needed by GPs, pharmacists and the NHS Business Services Authority.

A successful pilot of the scheme was carried out at GP Practices across England and saw 329,000 prescriptions dispensed by more than 3,100 community pharmacies.

EPS Phase 4 will be put into motion from November 18 but the roll-out will continue into next year. Clinical Commissioning Groups will manage the roll-out in their own areas, supported by NHS Digital and NHSBSA.

Little or no change will be made to the process of being prescribed medicine, requesting medicine or collecting them from their pharmacy.

If patients don’t have a nominated pharmacy, they will still receive a paper copy of the prescription, however it will contain a barcode. At this point, staff can scan the barcode and download their electronic prescription from the secure NHS database – the NHS Spine.

If you fall into the category of the 32 million patients who already have a nominated pharmacy, prescriptions will continue to be sent electronically and no paper copies will be needed.

Dr Ian Lowry, Director of Digital Medicines and Pharmacy at NHS Digital, said:

“Every prescription that is sent electronically saves money for the NHS by increasing efficiency. The system is also safer and more secure, as prescriptions can’t be lost and clinicians can check their status online.

“Building upon the success of the existing service, this is a huge milestone to reach, and one which benefits patients, GPs, pharmacists and the NHS as a whole.”

Paper prescriptions will continue to be available in special circumstances, but the default system will be electronic.

This comes shortly after a number of new NHS backed measures were launched to help older generations use digital.

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