Urgent care centres to get Electronic Prescription Service

Pilots declared a success and pave way for national implementation

The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) is to be rolled out nationally in integrated urgent care settings, such as NHS 111, GP out-of-hours services and walk-in centres.

Stethoscope and hands typing on laptopIt will enable doctors and other healthcare workers on the sites to use EPS to prescribe medicines in the same way as GP practices transmit prescriptions to community pharmacies.

NHS Digital said the move follows successful pilots that began in December and involved 73 prescribers and 257 dispensers in London and the East Midlands.

The service will initially be available in settings that use the Advanced Adastra system, which accounts for the majority, and NHS Digital is working with other suppliers to develop the functionality for their systems.

It said it will free up time for doctors and other healthcare workers issuing prescriptions and for pharmacists who dispense them.

Winter catalyst

Dr Vishen Ramisson, senior clinical lead at NHS Digital, said: “Reducing winter pressures on the NHS has become a catalyst for change, resulting in new levels of digital innovation that will have profound benefit to patients, care providers and local pharmacies.

“This is a significant step in extending the benefits of digital prescribing, providing a faster, better and more efficient system for patients, doctors and pharmacists.

“Faster processing of prescriptions from NHS 111 and out of hours will enable those services to treat more urgent cases or spend more time treating each patient.

“And a patient who requires nothing more than a short-term supply of an existing medication will no longer need a face-to-face consultation with a clinician.”

Under the pilots, prescribers have been identifying a pharmacy that is open and accessible for the patient, using similar processes as for the existing paper forms. EPS uses a ‘one-off nomination’ to direct the prescription to the selected pharmacy, where they are downloaded onto the patient medication record system. The prescription message contains contact details of the prescribing site in case there are any questions.

Image by Daniel Sone, public domain via Wikimedia Commons