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GPs will temporarily not require patient consent for electronic repeat prescriptions

Sodium valproate

GPs no longer need to obtain patient consent for electronic repeat prescriptions and can instead apply their clinical judgement, NHS England has announced.

It has been the case that patients need to individually consent to receiving medication via electronic repeat prescriptions, but NHS England and health secretary Matt Hancock have agreed that this can be suspended until at least 30 June, in certain circumstances. 

Under the ‘Amendments Relating to the Provision of Primary Care Services During a Pandemic etc Regulations 2020’, GP practices in England may transfer any clinically suitable patient onto electronic repeat dispensing if they are already receiving, or have agreed to receive, electronic prescriptions.

This applies to any patient who has previously had medication dispensed by means of the electronic prescription service (EPS); any patient who has recorded a nominated pharmacy either via the practice, pharmacy or NHS App; or any patient whose practice is live with EPS Phase 4.

Addressing GPs, community pharmacists and commissioners yesterday (4 June), Dr Nikki Kanani, medical director for primary care; Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England; and Ed Waller, director of primary care strategy and NHS Contracts, added that they will provide an update at the end of the month on the future of the suspension. 

Their letter said: ‘Using their clinical judgement, GPs should identify any patient who is suitable for eRD and, if they are already receiving electronic prescriptions as set out above, convert their prescription to eRD.

‘Once they have done that, the practice must contact those patients to inform them that their prescription has been converted, and provide some general information on eRD – including how to nominate a pharmacy if they have not done so.’