Electronic prescriptions for dispensers
Find out about using the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), along with information about smartcards and advice on implementing the service.
Benefits of electronic prescriptions
EPS in integrated urgent care settings
Using the Electronic Prescription Service
Service and business continuity
Prescriptions are processed more efficiently
- electronic prescriptions contain the patient's information, so there is less need to type this into your dispensing system
- prescribers use a standardised drug dictionary to complete electronic prescriptions, improving prescription accuracy and reducing the risk of patients receiving the wrong medication
- receive fewer reimbursement queries due to electronic prescription endorsement
- reduced risk of duplicate prescriptions as electronic prescriptions can't be lost
- only signed tokens need to be sent to the NHS Business Services Authority in the month end prescription submission - there's no need to file and sort them like FP10s
- no need to send and collect paper prescriptions to and from GP practices
- no need to wait for paper prescriptions to arrive in the post
Better stock control
- accessing electronic prescriptions in advance of the patient's arrival means you have time to order any out of stock items
- electronic prescriptions can be integrated with stock control modules to further reduce administration
Improved patient satisfaction
- electronic prescriptions allow you to order and prepare prescriptions in advance, reducing waiting times for patients and ensuring stock is available
- notes can be added to electronic prescriptions, allowing messages from prescribers to be passed on to patients
A pilot to give prescribers in integrated urgent care settings the ability to prescribe electronically using EPS started in December 2017. This will include NHS 111, GP out of hours services, Clinical Assessment Services (CAS), walk-in centres, minor injuries units and urgent care centres.
The pilot is for selected users of the Adastra system, the clinical software used in many integrated urgent care settings. Prescribers within the pilot sites will be able to use EPS to prescribe medicines in the same way as prescriptions are currently sent from GP practices to community pharmacies using EPS. Prescribers will identify a pharmacy that is open and accessible for the patient using similar processes as they use for paper FP10s.
Find out more about EPS in integrated urgent care settings.
Use the new EPS benefits estimator to find out how your pharmacy or Dispensing Appliance Contractor (DAC) benefits from using the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). Just enter a few basic statistics about your current use of EPS.
Here are some resources to help you get the most out of using the Electronic Prescription Service.
To use the Electronic Prescription Service, patients choose where their prescriber will electronically send their prescription. This is called nomination.
- patients choose which pharmacy they wish to nominate, and this can be changed or cancelled at any time
- patients must be fully informed about EPS before their nomination can be set on the system
- changes to a patient's nominated pharmacy can only be made at the patient's request
- nomination is suitable for most patients. Patients on regular repeats and who use the same pharmacy most of the time will see the most benefit
Electronic prescriptions must be downloaded from the NHS Spine before being dispensed to the patient.
Read more about dispensing electronic prescriptions.
If you can't find an electronic prescription on your system, there are 2 things you can do:
- Do a routine prescription download.
- Use the EPS Prescription Tracker and search by NHS number.
Electronic repeat dispensing for dispensers
Electronic repeat dispensing (eRD) is an integral part of the EPS, which offers many extra benefits over paper repeat dispensing and dispensing of repeat prescriptions.
If you're a dispenser,
find out about electronic repeat dispensing and how you could benefit from using it.
Cancelling electronic prescriptions
The prescriber can cancel the whole electronic prescription or individual item(s) on the prescription at any point until it's dispensed to the patient. A reason for cancellation is requested and then a cancellation message is sent to the Electronic Prescription Service.
It's the responsibility of the person cancelling to ensure the patient is informed. Dispensers are notified of cancellations when they attempt to retrieve the electronic prescription.
Read more about cancelling an electronic prescription as a dispenser.
Endorsement and claim messages
You can manage your submissions of reimbursement endorsements electronically. As with paper prescriptions, specific endorsements are still required, such as endorsements claiming broken bulk, out of pocket expenses or the 'No Cheaper Stock Obtainable' (NCSO) concession.
These must be selected and submitted electronically using the specific codes provided, with any supporting information.
You can send electronic claim messages as you go throughout the month, but no later than 180 days after the dispense notification (or 28 days for Schedule 4 Controlled Drugs).
Find out about NHS Business Service Authority's guidance for endorsements.
Read our information on claiming reimbursement for electronic prescriptions to find out more about how to send an electronic claim when you have dispensed a prescription and want to claim reimbursement.
Submitting monthly reimbursements
You can manage the submission of reimbursement endorsements electronically for electronic prescriptions, rather than sorting and posting them at the end of each month. This will reduce the volume of paper to be sorted and posted at the end of the month.
Find out about NHS Business Service Authority's guidance for endorsements.
Prescribing and dispensing tokens
Paper copies of electronic prescriptions will always need to be made available, by the GP practice or the pharmacy, where necessary. Paper copies of electronic prescriptions are called 'tokens'. They act as a hard copy of the details contained within the electronic prescription.
There are two types of token; prescription and dispensing. Read more about prescription and dispensing tokens.
Smartcards and access control are secure measures by which clinical and personal information is accessed by only those that have a valid reason to do so. You will need a smartcard to use electronic prescriptions.
Local Registration Authorities (RA) assign pre-approved pharmacy roles to smartcards and assign them to the relevant pharmacy, or multiple pharmacies, by applying the relevant Pharmacy Organisation code(s).
Smartcards are uniquely attributed to individuals and shouldn't be shared with anyone nor should the individual divulge their unique passcode to anyone.
General guidance for Smartcard users [93.25KB] contains information on the following subjects:
- smartcard Registration Authorities (RA's)
- smartcard roles in pharmacy
- Care Identity Service (CIS) - the online tool for smartcard management
Key Smartcard activities [106.63KB] provides information on the following subjects:
- upgrading from EPS Release 1 to Release 2
- getting a smartcard
- updating passcode/contact details
- updating smartcard roles
- unlocking a smartcard
- renewing a smartcard certificate
- cancelling a smartcard or changing site
Temporary Access Cards
Temporary Access Cards (TACs) are temporary smartcards to be used if your personal smartcard is lost, stolen or damaged.
We're aware of the business continuity risks associated with lost or stolen smartcards, so we've issued guidance to local Registration Authorities (RA) on issuing locked Temporary Access Cards (TACs) to pharmacies that consider themselves at risk.
If you're a lone pharmacist working without support staff, you should consider requesting a TAC from your RA.
They can be activated by the sponsor or local smartcard administrator in conjunction with the pharmacist who needs the card activating.
Normal smartcard processes will apply:
- lost and stolen cards should be reported to your local RA team as soon as possible
- TACs should be stored securely
- the TAC should be returned to a locked state when the pharmacist no longer needs it
If you'd like to receive EPS incident alerts,
please complete this form. [86KB]
To log a suspected safety incident, please read the clinical safety health IT related incidents guidance. [304.77KB]
New functionality is available within the electronic prescription tracker to help with clinical decision making in a business continuity situation. For further information please read our user guides.