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Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (EPMA) Data in Secondary Care under the COVID-19 Direction

In December 2020 NHS England established a daily collection of medicines prescribed and administered to patients, sourced from ePMA systems in hospital NHS trusts in England. The collection stopped in August 2023 but the information collected remains accessible for research and analysis.

The purpose of this data collection

The collection was established to support the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

How to access prescribed and administered medicines data

This data is available to a wide range of customers by application to NHS Digital’s Data Access Request Service (DARS). The application must be for a COVID-19 purpose. Linkage to other NHS England datasets is possible.

How the data was collected

The data was sourced from the main ePMA systems of 26 NHS hospital trusts in England. All were using ePMA systems supplied by CareFlow Medicines Management (CMM), accounting for an estimated 15% of the total prescribing activity in secondary care.

Data was collected each week from December 2020 to August 2023, with an additional historical collection from January 2019 to December 2020 to provide a full year of pre-pandemic data.

Dataset specifics

Trusts often have multiple ePMA systems, a main system, with separate systems for specialities such as intensive care, oncology, paediatrics, maternity and others. This data was collected only from the main ePMA system in each trust.

The key data items we requested include:

  • NHS number
  • inpatient prescribing
  • inpatient medicine administration
  • outpatient prescribing
  • outpatient medicine administration
  • discharge prescribing (including short term leave)

Some medicines have complex prescribing instructions such as varied and reducing doses, and not all ePMA systems are configured to deal with these complexities, meaning some medicines might not be included in the collection.

The data available for research and analysis contains 91.9 million prescriptions and 466.6 million medicine administrations.

Data usage guidance

Protecting your data

You can read about how NHS England are the guardians of patient data, making sure it is protected and handled securely, on our Keeping patient data safe page.

Transparency information

You can find further NHS England transparency information on the Transparency notice: how we use your personal data page and specifically on the Coronavirus response information governance hub page.

Last edited: 14 September 2023 5:00 pm