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GPs back rollout of electronic prescriptions

A survey has found widespread support among GPs for the Government's Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), as the second stage of the service's rollout gathers pace.

A total of 18 practices and 1,559 pharmacies are now EPS Release 2-enabled, which means GPs can send a prescription electronically and directly to a pharmacy of a patient's choosing.

Some 40,400 patients have ‘nominated' which pharmacy they want their prescription to be sent to.

A survey, carried out by Doctors.net for NHS mail order pharmacy Pharmacy2U, asked 1,006 GPs about their understanding of electronic repeat dispensing, which will be a feature of EPS when it is fully launched later this year.

The service allows GPs to digitally authorise bundles of repeat prescriptions, which are then dispensed to the patient's nominated pharmacy.

Two thirds of GPs said they thought it would reduce their workload and on average, GPs in England said they would expect to use it for 39% of patients on repeat medication.

However a third of GPs were concerned they would lose control over repeat prescribing and 43% were concerned it might reduce opportunities to review patients' medication, while one in five GPs admitted they did not understand electronic repeat dispensing or were not aware that it was to be introduced under EPS.

Dr Paul Joshi, a GP in Tamworth, Staffordshire, said: ‘Electronic prescribing, if done well, would be very useful because it avoids those who need to come to the surgery to pick up prescriptions. A lot of pharmacy centre send someone round to pick [prescriptions] up, which is not really needed.'

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘We are pleased that there is increasing recognition of the benefits that the Electronic Prescription Service can offer in helping GPs better manage their prescribing workload. Release 2 offers GPs more control over prescribing, such as the ability to create or cancel repeat prescriptions before they are dispensed without many of the constraints of the paper process.'  

‘We are continuing to work to raise awareness among prescribers about how EPS works and how they can get the most out of the service for themselves and their patients.'

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