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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

Electronic repeat dispensing for prescribers

If you're a prescriber, find out about electronic repeat dispensing and how you could benefit from using it.

Benefits of using electronic repeat dispensing (eRD)

Electronic repeat dispensing (eRD) is an integral part of EPS, which offers many extra benefits over paper repeat dispensing and repeat prescribing. 

  • two-thirds of prescriptions issued in primary care are repeat prescriptions. These repeat prescriptions account for nearly 80% of NHS medicine costs for primary care
  • 410 million repeat prescriptions are generated every year - equivalent to an average of more than 375 per GP per week
  • it's estimated that up to 330 million, or 80%, of all repeat prescriptions could eventually be replaced with eRD
  • this could save 2.7 million hours of GP and practice time

How does eRD work?

  • eRD allows the prescriber to authorise and issue a batch of repeatable prescriptions for up to 12 months with just one digital signature.
  • eRD stores all issues of the eRD prescriptions securely on the NHS Spine and automatically downloads them to the patient's nominated community pharmacy at intervals set by the prescriber. 
  • patients are required to give their consent for repeat dispensing. This can be verbal and formal written consent is not required. 
  • eRD allows the cancellation at item or whole prescription level, which will cancel all subsequent issues on the Spine. 
  • PRN or 'when required' medication can be prescribed using eRD (it's advised that PRN items are set up as a separate eRD batch as they may have a different interval to the patient's other eRD batches). The prescriber can set the specified intervals based on the patient's usage history to predict the number of uses/doses. If the patient runs out, the subsequent issue can be downloaded in advance - based on clinical assessment by the dispenser. This may mean an extra prescription is needed to ensure the patient has enough medication to last until their next review. Some prescribing systems have a variable prescription type, which helps with this.

Find out more by watching this video:

Benefits for prescribers

eRD simplifies the repeat prescribing process and offers a range of benefits, including:  

  • prescribers can authorise a batch of repeat prescriptions for up to 12 months with just one digital signature
  • eRD simplifies the repeat dispensing process, particularly in terms of volume of paper used
  • dispensers are mandated to ask patients if they require all items on their prescription before each issue, to avoid medicines wastage  
  • eRD puts the prescriber in control rather than allowing the patient or dispenser to continue re-ordering unnecessary items - which leads to oversupply and stockpiling
  • reduced footfall at the GP practice and fewer telephone calls as patients don't need to collect or order repeat prescriptions for the duration of their eRD batch

Benefits for patients

Benefits for patients include:

  • no need to contact the surgery to reorder at regular intervals unless their condition changes
  • retain regular contact with their dispenser, who is responsible for checking that their circumstances haven't changed since the previous issue of the prescription was collected
  • change nominated dispenser at any time during the duration of the eRD prescription 
  • if clinically appropriate can request the next issue early or obtain more than one prescription, for example when going on holiday

Maximising electronic repeat dispensing

Last edited: 15 June 2022 9:41 am