GPs issued 86% of all prescriptions electronically in England during April – an increase of more than 10% since February and almost 20% year-on-year.
GP practices have been encouraged to use electronic repeat dispensing (eRD), so patients can receive a batch of prescriptions at regular intervals, rather than having to return to their practice each time during the Covid-19 pandemic.
To aid this, the need for patients to individually consent to being moved to eRD has been temporarily suspended.
NHS Digital statistics further showed that more than half (54%) of GP practices are using Phase 4 of EPS, which rolled out in November 2019, and allows patients to use the service without a nominated pharmacy and prescriptions to be downloaded using the unique prescription ID.
In April, the use of the service expanded into GP Access/virtual hubs, walk-in centres and out-of-hours settings, which has contributed to the increased figures, according to NHS Digital.
The EPS system has been useful during the coronavirus pandemic, as it ‘helps patients and staff practice social distancing by reducing contacts,’ said NHS Digital associate director of live services, Sam Robinson.
The national roll-out of Phase 4 of EPS could help by reducing paper usage and saving time, according to NHS Digital.
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