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 prepare for winter 2020, we accelerated deployment of EPS Phase 4. It was enabled automatically for all TPP SystmOne and EMIS Web practices that use EPS (including dispensing practices) during September 2020.
For most practices, the move requires minimal action, but teams should consult the support materials on the Information for GP practices page.
Phase 4 is not yet available for national roll-out with Vision and Microtest.
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.