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GPs to make 'nearly all' prescriptions electronically under NHS plans

The NHS is pushing for GPs to make ‘nearly all’ prescriptions electronically as part of a drive to expand use of the Electronic Prescription Service, which will also look at electronically prescribing controlled drugs.

A pilot set to launch across 16 GP practices will test whether prescriptions can be electronically signed and sent by GPs using the EPS, without a patient having to first ‘nominate’ a pharmacist to collect it from.

The EPS is live in more than 80% of surgeries and about 43% of prescriptions since June have been made through the service.

The new model would just require a barcoded paper ‘token’ - matched to the GP’s electronic prescription - which the patient will use for collecting medications, in a move intended to ‘streamline’ the process.

A bulletin for GPs by the newly rebranded NHS Digital – formerly the Health and Social Care Information Centre – adds: ‘Separately, EPS will also be testing a way of allowing controlled drugs to be prescribed and dispensed using the system’ and this could launch in 2017.

The same bulletin also promises that an update of the NHS Mail system, due to roll out over the weekend of 13-14 August, will pave the way for NHS instant messaging.

Pulse understands the new features could be used by GPs and consultants quickly discuss referrals or other clinical issues with parties able to mark when they’re available at their desk or busy.

Readers' comments (6)

  • It's fantastic until the computer and or its connections go down.

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  • Fantastic! No more handing out paper prescriptions to get lost, or forgotten, or stolen, or sold. Now it will be a paper token, printed on prescription paper with the details of the medication prescribed and the patient's details..... How is this any different? Except for the risk of the computer system crashing so that the pharmacy can't access the prescription to dispense it, even though the patient is standing in the shop with all the necessary information.

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  • FFS it's 2016. Why the paper token? Why not just send the sodding script electronically, either to a specified chemist, or to a central database into which any pharmacist can gain access at a patient's request?

    Half a job NHS!

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  • Anyone using a computer connected to the spine will be able to access any EPSR2 prescription via the tracker (http://systems.hscic.gov.uk/eps/library/rxtracker). Strictly speaking the patient doesn't even need the token, only the patient's NHS number.

    Good tool to use even in general practice - surgery can see where a missing Rx is, common when patients use multiple pharmacies. When all Rx go electronic, no more reprints due to missing Rx! You'll just see where it is and the patient can either go to that pharmacy or ask the pharmacy to return it to the spine for a different pharmacy to dispense.

    Given the size of the NHS and the number of variables in primary care, these things do need to be implemented slowly. Eventually, no token at all will be needed. Slowly slowly catchy monkey...

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  • Despite all the hype the system still can not process prescriptions in a dispensing practice.i.e. a dispensing doctor patient can not nominate the surgery dispensary. This is important as this is who many rural patients wish to nominate. This has been a known problem for 10 plus years and counting maybe it will happen. As other comments the problems is in the reliability of the IT and N3 connection joined with patient expectations.

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  • The issue is when closed or chemist has so many that he can't cope

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