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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

Prescriptions are processed more efficiently

  1. Electronic prescriptions contain the patient's information, so there is less need to type this into your dispensing system.
  2. Prescribers use a standardised drug dictionary to complete electronic prescriptions, improving prescription accuracy and reducing the risk of patients receiving the wrong medication.
  3. Receive fewer reimbursement queries due to electronic prescription endorsement.
  4. Reduced risk of duplicate prescriptions as electronic prescriptions can't be lost.

Less paperwork

  1. 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.
  2. No need to send and collect paper prescriptions to and from GP practices.
  3. No need to wait for paper prescriptions to arrive in the post.

Better stock control

  1. Accessing electronic prescriptions in advance of the patient's arrival means you have time to order any out of stock items.
  2. Electronic prescriptions can be integrated with stock control modules to further reduce administration.

Improved patient satisfaction

  1. Electronic prescriptions allow you to order and prepare prescriptions in advance, reducing waiting times for patients and ensuring stock is available.
  2. Notes can be added to electronic prescriptions, allowing messages from prescribers to be passed on to patients.

Case studies

Case study - Rohpharm Pharmacy
Case study - Living Care Pharmacy

Electronic Prescription Service in integrated urgent care and other settings

Following a successful pilot, EPS is now being used by prescribers in integrated urgent care and other primary and community care settings.

Prescribers use EPS to prescribe medicines in the same way as prescriptions are currently sent from GP practices to community pharmacies using EPS.

Prescribers in urgent care settings 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 and other care settings. 

Using the Electronic Prescription Service

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. 

  1. Patients choose which pharmacy they wish to nominate, and this can be changed or cancelled at any time.
  2. Patients must be fully informed about EPS before their nomination can be set on the system.
  3. Changes to a patient's nominated pharmacy can only be made at the patient's request.
  4. 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.

Read more about nominating a pharmacy.


Electronic prescriptions must be downloaded from the NHS Spine before being dispensed to the patient.

Read more about dispensing electronic prescriptions.

Finding prescriptions

If you can't find an electronic prescription on your system, there are 2 things you can do:

  1. Do a routine prescription download.
  2. 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.

Returning prescriptions to the Spine

A prescription can be returned to the NHS Spine at the request of the patient (for example where a prescription cannot be fulfilled at the dispensing site) or at the request of a prescriber (where they wish to cancel the prescription). Your system supplier will have guidance on how to complete this action.

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 Reimbursement Endorsement Messages (EREM) 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 EREM 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. 

Service and business continuity


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, so you should ensure that a smartcard holding pharmacist is always available during your opening hours. The introduction of EPS into urgent care means that acute prescriptions may be issued electronically out of hours..

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 must not be shared with anyone nor should the individual divulge their unique passcode to anyone. 

General guidance for Smartcard users 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 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

Download a leaflet for new Smartcard users.
Find out more about Registration Authorities and Smartcards.

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.

A record of the TAC issuance covering:- date, time/in/out – name and UUID must be kept for audit purposes.

Normal smartcard processes will apply:

  • lost and stolen cards must be reported to your local RA team as soon as possible
  • TACs must be stored securely 
  • the TAC is to be returned to a locked state when the pharmacist no longer needs it

Business continuity

Subscribe to alerts about EPS and other services, through the NHS Digital service status pages.

If you are unable to access HSCN then please complete this form.

To log a suspected safety incident, please read the clinical safety health IT related incidents guidance.

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.


Make sure you’re receiving our latest information about EPS by subscribing to our bulletins. Manage your preferences on our bulletins subscription page.

Further information

internal About the EPS Prescription Tracker

The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) Prescription Tracker allows staff working at prescribing and dispensing sites to check the status of a prescription.

internal Statistics

Download the latest statistics, GP planned go-lives and more

Last edited: 22 February 2023 3:42 pm