Electronic Prescription Service – Phase 4

Summary

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.

Pilot overview

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

The initial four practices will be followed by four more in December. An additional 11 GP practices will then join the pilot in January 2019. 

Following a successful pilot, Phase 4 will be rolled out to all GP practices in England making EPS the default method for prescribing, dispensing and reimbursement of prescriptions in primary care in England.

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 64% of all prescriptions issued in England.

Paper prescriptions will continue to be available for 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 to obtain their medication. This token will contain a unique barcode which can be scanned at any pharmacy in England to download the prescription from the NHS Spine and retrieve the medication details.

It's expected that Phase 4 will increase the proportion of prescriptions sent electronically to around 95%. Some prescriptions items may remain unsuitable for EPS, such as those not in the dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d).

What Phase 4 means for dispensers and prescribers