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Cancelling an electronic prescription - for prescribers

If you're a prescriber, find out what happens when you cancel a prescription.

Electronic prescriptions can be cancelled at any point by the prescriber (until they are downloaded by the patient's nominated pharmacy).


Cancelling an electronic prescription

If an electronic prescription needs to be cancelled, this can be done by any prescriber (or GP practice staff) who has the correct authorisation on their smartcard.

Either whole prescriptions or individual items on a prescription can be cancelled.

If something needs to be changed, the prescription or individual item must be cancelled, and a new prescription should be generated. The pharmacy and/or the patient should be informed of any changes to avoid any confusion.

If a prescriber cancels a repeat dispensing (batch) prescription, all outstanding prescription issues that have not been downloaded by the dispenser will be cancelled. It is also possible to cancel individual items on the prescription.



Marking a prescription as not dispensed.

There may be occasions where a Pharmacist will choose to mark a prescription as ‘Not Dispensed’ instead of returning it to Spine for cancellation. This may happen where the Pharmacist in their professional opinion believes that the patient could come to harm if the practice are not able to cancel the prescription when it is returned to the spine. This is because the Pharmacist has to return the prescription to the spine and contact the practice directly to cancel the medication. If the medication is not cancelled it will be available to any other Pharmacy if the patient changes their nomination.  The pharmacy team should still communicate to the practice that the patient has not received the medication, as there is no automated notification process for the practice


What happens when an electronic prescription is cancelled

When a prescriber attempts to cancel a prescription, they will receive one of 3 possible responses from the system.

A 'prescription cancelled successfully' response confirming that the prescription has been cancelled

In this case, a new electronic prescription can be generated, signed and sent to the patient's nominated pharmacy. The patient does not need to return to their GP practice. The prescriber can add additional notes to the prescription to give the dispenser and/or patient more information.

The EPS Prescription Tracker status will show as 'cancelled' and the pharmacy will not be able to download the prescription.

A 'cancellation unsuccessful with dispenser' response, confirming that the patient's nominated pharmacy has already downloaded the prescription from the NHS Spine

In this case, the prescriber should contact the dispenser (contact details will be displayed on the screen) and discuss the next steps. The dispenser can return the prescription to the Spine, where it will be automatically cancelled, or the dispenser can mark the prescription as 'Not dispensed'.

The EPS Prescription Tracker status will show as 'With dispenser'.

A 'cancellation unsuccessful dispensed' response, confirming that the prescription has already been dispensed to the patient

In this case, the prescriber should contact the patient and discuss the next steps. For example, the patient could be asked to return to their pharmacy to collect a new prescription.

There may be occasions where a Pharmacist will choose to mark a prescription as ‘Not Dispensed’ instead of returning it to Spine for cancellation. This may happen where the Pharmacist in their professional opinion believes that the patient could come to harm if the practice are not able to cancel the prescription when it is returned to the spine. This is because the Pharmacist has to return the prescription to the spine and contact the practice directly to cancel the medication. If the medication is not cancelled it will be available to any other Pharmacy if the patient changes their nomination. The pharmacy team should still communicate to the practice that the patient has not received the medication, as there is no automated notification process for the practice.

Last edited: 21 January 2021 6:09 pm