Electronic Prescription Service extends to urgent care

London urgent care services using Adastra system take part in pilot, with plans for national roll out in new year

A group of London urgent care services have begun to pilot the use of the NHS Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), previously available only to GPs.

Fingers holding pill bottleNHS Digital said this is a step towards making the EPS available for all integrated urgent care settings some time in the new year.

The EPS, which makes it possible for doctors and healthcare workers to make prescriptions available to community pharmacists, was developed as part of the NHS National Programme for IT and has been used by GPs since the late 2000s. The pilot is now testing its use among prescribers in urgent care, including NHS 111, GP out-of-hours services, clinical assessment services, walk-in centres, urgent care centres and minor injuries units.

It is currently restricted to a number of prescribers using the Adastra clinical system for urgent care, all in London, but more are currently being trained and NHS Digital is working with other suppliers to develop the relevant function in their systems.

The organisation said the pilot should be completed in the new year, and if considered successful a national deployment will be authorised.

Saving time and money

Richard Ashcroft, programme director for digital medicines at NHS Digital, said: "This is an important development which will bring significant benefit to patients in integrated urgent care, building on the time and money that EPS has already saved across primary care

"Rolling this additional service out will relieve some of the pressures faced by out-of-hours services such as 111, particularly during winter months, and will improve the experience for patients."

NHS Digital has said the benefits of extending the EPS should include faster processing of prescriptions from the relevant services, and saving patients from face-to-face consultations for repeat prescriptions.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0