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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 on this webpage.
Benefits for dispensers
The benefits for dispensers include:
- most of your prescriptions will be processed electronically to reduce dual processing
- one main process for prescriptions will lead to a more efficient, faster and secure service
- end-of-month processing will be quicker due to fewer paper prescriptions
- the risk of dispensing duplicate prescriptions will reduce as electronic prescriptions can’t be lost
- it will be possible to track more prescriptions on the EPS Prescription Tracker
Dispensing a Phase 4 prescription
When a patient presents a Phase 4 token you should scan the unique barcode or enter the barcode number to retrieve the prescription from the NHS Spine. Phase 4 prescriptions will not be included in nominated release requests which download nominated prescriptions from the NHS Spine (either scheduled or manually).
Paper Phase 4 tokens will not have a prescriber signature on them because the prescription will have been signed electronically. The word ‘nominated’ will also not appear on the token.
You should scan the token to retrieve the prescription from the NHS Spine. You should not dispense from the token alone as the legal prescription is always the electronic prescription.
Post-dated prescriptions will not be available to download until the date they become valid (the date set by the prescriber).
Endorsements written or printed onto any type of EPS token will not be processed by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA). As with all EPS prescriptions, endorsements need to be processed electronically using your dispensing system.
There are some exceptions where Phase 4 cannot be used, such as for items not in the dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d) and instalment prescribing. Prescriptions for these items will be printed as FP10s and hand signed.
Repeat prescribing and repeat dispensing
Repeat prescriptions where each is issued separately will be issued electronically. Patients will receive a new token for each prescription
For electronic repeat dispensing (eRD), also known as electronic batch prescribing, patients without a nomination will receive one token that they will need to keep hold of and present each time. Patients may ask to leave this token with you if they would like you to dispense all the issues in the batch. Patients should be given the next issue of their medication only when it is appropriate.
Patients presenting without a paper token
In the exceptional circumstance that a patient arrives without a token, you can use the patient’s NHS number to search the EPS Prescription Tracker. This will provide you with the Prescription ID which can be used to download the prescription manually.
Follow our instructions on finding an electronic prescription.
If the patient tells you they were not given a paper token by the GP practice, you may wish to contact the practice to ensure, that in future, patients are given their tokens.
All existing EPS nominations will remain valid and further nominations for appropriate patients should continue to be set. You don’t need to do anything with existing nominations.
Existing paper prescriptions
All existing paper prescriptions that have not been dispensed will still be valid until their normal expiry date. These prescriptions do not need to be reissued electronically.
Types of token
Prescription tokens are printed on green stationery at GP practices and dispensing tokens are printed on white stationery at community pharmacies or DACs.
Following the introduction of EPS Phase 4, the NHSBSA now accepts patient exemption declarations on either green prescribing tokens or white dispensing tokens.
Token printing quality
The quality of printing on a Phase 4 token may prevent you from scanning and retrieving the prescription from the NHS Spine. To avoid delays in dispensing the patient’s prescription, you should use the 18-digit Prescription ID to download the prescription manually.
You may wish to contact the GP practice to find out if they can adjust their print settings for future tokens.
The time it takes for your system to download a Phase 4 prescription from the NHS Spine should be the same as when scanning existing EPS prescriptions. If download times are significantly different to those you experience with EPS, it is important that you raise this with your system supplier.
If you encounter any issues with your dispensing system during the Phase 4 roll out, these should be raised following your existing process for other EPS-related issues with the dispensing system.
If you encounter any issues relating to business process issues with the GP practice, you should raise these directly with the practice.
Should there be a query relating to the claiming or reimbursement process, you should contact the NHSBSA.
Encouraging patients to set nominations
Many of the benefits of EPS are associated with nomination and so patients should still be given the opportunity to set one up.
You may want to encourage patients to set up a nomination if they:
- have regular prescriptions
- use your pharmacy/DAC every time
- are already using your prescription collection service
Patient consent is still required for nomination and it is up to the patient if they decide to nominate.
Information about Phase 4 for patients
You will be provided with a poster which you need to display prominently. If you wish to print additional copies, a downloadable version of the poster is available below. Patients can also find more information about EPS at www.nhs.uk/EPS.
Printable poster (all dispensers will receive a printed poster ahead of national roll out)