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Dispensing electronic prescriptions

Find out how to dispense electronic prescriptions.

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

Downloading prescriptions

Electronic prescriptions can be downloaded onto your pharmacy system in the following ways:

  • automatically overnight
  • frequent manual requests throughout the day. You may choose to do this:

    - over lunch
    - every hour
    - every time you're using the terminal
    - during busy surgery hours when you know there will be a lot of prescriptions being signed
    - before deadlines for wholesale orders

Downloading prescriptions regularly will give you the opportunity to prepare the prescription in advance of the patient's arrival and order out-of-stock items where required. This will mean fewer owings.

A good time to download prescriptions is before you send off your daily orders or before collecting paper prescriptions from the GP Practice.

As EPS has now been introduced in urgent care, you may wish to reconsider when and how regularly you download electronic prescriptions outside of normal GP opening hours, particularly if you are a 100-hour pharmacy. 

Using the EPS Prescription Tracker frequently will show any acute prescriptions to be downloaded, ensuring that you prepare these in time for the patient arriving to collect their prescription.

Dispensing terminology

Make sure that you understand the terminology used in your system. When sending a message to the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) to say that items have been dispensed, the term used on the system may be 'dispensed', 'collected', or 'complete'. This is often referred to as the 'dispense notification' in EPS guidance.

To help you differentiate electronic prescriptions from paper ones awaiting collection, you could:

  • staple the dispensing token to the bag
  • use different shelves to store bags for electronic prescriptions and paper prescriptions
  • mark bags with an 'E' or an EPS sticker (contact your pharmacy stationery supplier)

If the patient is non-age exempt, or pays for their prescription, then you are required to print a dispensing token for them to sign for payment/exemption declaration.

Electronic repeat dispensing

On the last issue of a repeat dispensing batch, the dispensing token will indicate that this is the last issue. The pharmacy should advise the patient to contact the GP practice to authorise a new batch of prescriptions.

Last edited: 5 October 2018 8:34 am