The last stage in the rollout of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) will take place in November in a bid to increase efficiency and save hundreds of millions every year, primary care minister Jo Churchill has announced.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said the move will create a faster and more secure process for clinicians, with estimated savings of £300m a year for the NHS by 2021, Ms Churchill said.
Already close to 70% of all prescriptions are prescribed and dispensed through EPS. Nearly all prescriptions will be sent electronically once the rollout is complete.
With EPS, patients who have nominated a pharmacy will have their prescriptions sent directly to their pharmacy or dispenser. In this final stage of the rollout, those who do not nominate a pharmacy will still receive a paper copy of their prescription, but it will include a unique barcode that can be scanned to retrieve medication details from the NHS database.
DHSC said EPS will remove the need for patients to pick up repeat prescriptions from their GP, cut the amount of administration needed around prescriptions and reduce the amount of prescriptions that need to be stored.
Ms Churchill said: ’Digitising the entire prescription service is a key part of keeping up the drive to make the NHS fit for the 21st century. This will free up vital time for GPs and allow pharmacists to spend more time with their patients, and save millions of pounds a year.’
Chair of the RCGP, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said: ‘Implementing technology in the best interests of patient care by getting the basics right first is a key part of the College’s future vision for general practice.
‘Electronic prescribing is an example of technology that works for GPs and our teams, our colleagues in pharmacies and our patients, and we are pleased to see the latest phase of the scheme being rolled out more widely.’