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Portsmouth has become the first area in the country where prescriptions for all patients can be sent electronically.
NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been piloting the latest improvement to the Electronic Prescription Services (EPS), known as Phase 41. This allows prescriptions for all patients to be sent using the more efficient digital system and not just those who have chosen a regular nominated dispenser2.
EPS saves the NHS time and money by reducing the amount of paper processing required by GPs, pharmacists and the NHS Business Services Authority.
Portsmouth CCG is the first in the country to have 100 per cent of their GP practices able to use EPS. Once the NHS Digital system is rolled out across England, it is estimated it will save the NHS £130m a year.
Patients see little or no change to the process of being prescribed medicines by their GP, or how they request and collect them from their community pharmacy. Those without a nominated pharmacy still receive a paper copy of their prescription listing what has been prescribed, but this will also contain a barcode. Pharmacy staff will then scan the barcode to download their electronic prescription from the secure NHS database – the NHS Spine. Patients with a nominated3 pharmacy will still have their prescriptions sent electronically without needing a paper copy.
Simon Cooper, Director of Medicines Optimisation at NHS Portsmouth CCG, said: “Implementing EPS Phase 4 across the city has been a very straightforward process for us and we are already beginning to see the benefits.
“Moving from what was essentially a paper-driven process to an approach which is primarily digitally-focused means much greater efficiency for our GP practices and dispensing pharmacies in terms of time and accuracy, and this can only be positive for patients, too.
“It’s also helping to create a much more accurate picture for us in terms of assessing prescribing data, which we can now do more quickly and with a greater degree of confidence in the information we are reviewing.”
Richard Ashcroft, Programme Director for Medicines and Pharmacy at NHS Digital, said: “This is a major step forward for patients, GPs and pharmacists. Portsmouth CCG have worked hard to introduce EPS Phase 4 and we look forward to other areas of the country following their lead soon.
“Every single prescription that is sent electronically, rather than via paper, saves money for the NHS as less time and valuable resource is spent processing and storing the paper prescriptions.”
Benefits of EPS Phase 4
- fewer paper prescriptions will result in a more efficient, faster and secure process, saving the NHS time and money
- an electronic system means prescriptions can’t be lost and GPs don’t need to sign replacements
- clinicians will be able to keep track of the progress and status of prescriptions using the EPS Prescription Tracker
Notes to editors
- This includes Community pharmacies and Dispensing Appliance Contractors (DACs) live with EPS
- In EPS, patients can choose or ‘nominate’ a community pharmacy and/or Dispensing Appliance Contractor (DAC). Their prescriptions will then be sent electronically to their ‘nominated’ dispenser.
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