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Electronic Prescription Service – Phase 4

The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) Phase 4 enables EPS to become the default for prescribing, dispensing and reimbursement of prescriptions in primary care in England


Phase 4 of EPS allows prescriptions for patients without an EPS nomination to be signed, sent and processed electronically, making EPS the default method for prescribing, dispensing and reimbursement of prescriptions in primary care in England.

NHS Digital piloted Phase 4 at GP practices and dispensers across England from November 2018, and the national roll-out started in November 2019.

To help you prepare for winter, we are accelerating deployment of EPS Phase 4. It will be enabled automatically for all TPP SystmOne and EMIS Web practices that use EPS (including dispensing practices) from 7 September 2020.

To ensure a smooth transition, it’s recommended that practices enable Phase 4 before this date. This will give teams more time to access support from their CCG EPS lead if necessary. Practices can contact their CCG to arrange a go-live date. For most practices, the move requires minimal action, but teams should consult the support materials and readiness checklist on the Information for GP practices page.

About Phase 4

EPS currently allows prescribers to send prescriptions electronically to a dispenser of the patient's choice - known as their "nominated" dispenser.

Patients without an EPS nomination are given a token (patients may refer to this as a paper copy of their prescription) to present at a community pharmacy or Dispensing Appliance Contractor (DAC) to obtain their medication. This token will contain a unique barcode which can be scanned at any community pharmacy or DAC in England to download the prescription from the NHS Spine and retrieve the medication details.

Paper prescriptions will continue to be available in special circumstances, but almost all prescriptions can be processed electronically.

Information for clinical commissioning groups

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) play a vital role in preparing GP practices and dispensers for EPS Phase 4 in England and supporting them during implementation. It is important that the relevant people within your organisation (for example your medicines management team, EPS lead or similar) read the information on the information for clinical commissioning groups page.

Information for GP practices

You should ensure your practice team has read and understood the information on the information for GP practices page ahead of Phase 4 being switched on.

Information for dispensers

As EPS Phase 4 is now being rolled out to GP practices across England, it is important that everyone in your pharmacy or dispensing team has read and understood the information for dispensers page.

Last edited: 4 August 2020 2:00 pm