Research and Technology

22.12.17

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

NHS Digital has confirmed the launch of a pilot scheme for the new Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) for urgent care.

The system has been rolled out for GP services since 2009, but rising pressure across urgent services has prompted NHS England to suggest this new trial.

Patients in the selected areas seeking urgent or out-of-hours care can choose to have their prescriptions dispensed at any suitable community pharmacy.

Richard Ashcroft, programme director for digital medicines at NHS Digital, said the decision would have a positive impact on patients, giving more flexibility and allowing people to reach medicines they need.

He commented: “This is an important development which will bring significant benefit to patients in integrated urgent care, building on the time and money that EPS has already saved across primary care

“Rolling this additional service out will relieve some of the pressures faced by out-of-hours services such as 111, particularly during winter months, and will improve the experience for patients.”

It is hoped that the pilot will bring faster processing of prescriptions from NHS 111 and out-of-hours services, reducing the demand on those services enabling them to either treat more urgent cases or to spend more time treating each patient.

It will also improve the patient experience, as they will receive their prescription early on in an urgent care journey, reducing the number of interventions and journeys that the patient has to make.

As well as that, the system is expected to free up consultations for patients who really need them, because a patient who requires nothing more than a short-term supply of an existing medication will no longer need to take up a face-to-face consultation with a clinician in urgent or emergency care.

The pilot involves several prescribers in different integrated urgent care settings in the London area and will run until early in the new year.

Work is underway to finalise plans to roll out this service across all integrated urgent care settings starting in the new year, following a review of the pilot.

Initially, only sites running the Advanced Adastra system will have the necessary functionality, but NHS Digital is working with other suppliers to develop this functionality in their systems.

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