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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

Overview

Phase 4 of EPS allows prescriptions for patients without an EPS nomination to be signed, sent and processed electronically. NHS Digital piloted Phase 4 at GP practices and dispensers across England from November 2018.

The roll out of Phase 4 to GP practices in England started in November 2019, making EPS the default method for prescribing, dispensing and reimbursement of prescriptions in primary care in England.

National roll out schedule

The roll out of EPS Phase 4 for TPP SystmOne began 18 November 2019 and will continue over several months. The roll out plans for EMIS, Vision and Microtest will be published soon. Further information is available on the national roll out schedule page.

If you work at a GP practice, your CCG will contact you when they are ready to arrange your Phase 4 switch on.

About Phase 4

EPS currently allows prescribers to send prescriptions electronically to a dispenser of the patient's choice - known as their "nominated" dispenser. Electronic prescriptions currently account for around 70% of all prescriptions issued in England (September 2019).

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

Patients without an EPS nomination will be 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.

The Phase 4 pilot indicated that the new functionality can increase the proportion of prescriptions sent electronically to above 95%. Some prescriptions items may remain unsuitable for EPS, such as those not in the dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d).

Information for clinical commissioning groups

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will 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

Your CCG will contact you when they are ready to arrange your Phase 4 switch on date.

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 all GP practices in England, it is important that everyone in your pharmacy or dispensing team has read and understood the information for dispensers page.

Last edited: 28 November 2019 4:06 pm