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Phase 4 information for prescribers

In EPS Phase 4, patients without a nomination will be given an EPS token (patients may refer to these as ‘paper copies’ of their prescription) at the GP practice. This will be given to the patient (or their representative) or collected as part of a prescription collection service. Patients can take these tokens to any pharmacy in England.

This information is for GP practices taking part in the EPS Phase 4 pilot.

Benefits for prescribers

Benefits for prescribers include:

  • almost all prescriptions will be processed and signed electronically - in most cases, over 95% of your prescriptions will be processed this way and only a small proportion will be hand-signed
  • one main process for prescriptions will lead to a more efficient, faster and secure service
  • if a patient without a nomination loses their token, it can be easily reprinted, and a prescriber won’t have to sign it
  • it is also possible to track more prescriptions using the EPS Prescription Tracker

Prescribing a Phase 4 prescription

Patients without an EPS nomination will automatically receive electronic prescriptions and a token (you should refer to this as a paper copy when talking to patients) must be printed for these patients.

Without this token, patients won’t be able to get their medication as the barcode needs to be scanned by the dispenser, such as a community pharmacy or dispensing appliance contractor, to retrieve the prescription from the NHS Spine.

Tokens contain the same information as an FP10 such as the medications prescribed, quantity, dosage and instructions. However, as this is not the legal prescription, you do not need to sign this by hand.


There are only a few scenarios where a prescription can’t be sent electronically, and a paper hand-signed prescription will need to be produced, such as:

  • if you can’t use EPS to prescribe the items, such as non dm+d items and Schedule 2 & 3 Controlled Drugs (if this functionality has not yet been switched on in your practice)
  • if the patient is a dispensing patient and there is no EPS system available
  • if the patient has their prescriptions dispensed in Scotland, Wales or Ireland
  • if, in the professional judgment of the prescriber, the welfare of the patient is likely to be in jeopardy unless a paper prescription is issued

Remote prescribing

If you are prescribing remotely with the patient present (such as during a home visit) there are 2 options:

  • have a discussion with the patient to confirm if nomination may be suitable for them, then send the prescription to their nominated pharmacy
  • hand write an FP10 and give it to the patient

If you are prescribing remotely without the patient present, there are 2 options:

  • process the prescription electronically and ask someone at the practice to print out the token ready for the patient to collect
  • have a discussion with the patient to confirm if nomination may be suitable for them, and then send the prescription to their nominated pharmacy

Repeat prescribing and repeat dispensing

Repeat dispensing (batch prescribing)

If a patient is part way through a paper-based repeat dispensing regime when Phase 4 is switched on, the batch will continue on paper until it is complete and the final issue is dispensed. The next batch can be issued using electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD).

Patients without a nomination will receive one repeat dispensing token for the entire regime which they will need to keep hold of or leave with their chosen pharmacy until the end of the batch.

Repeat prescriptions (on request)

Patients without a nomination who receive repeat prescriptions (i.e. they request their repeats) must be given a new token each time a new repeat prescription is issued. They can’t use the same one each time, unless they are on electronic repeat dispensing (eRD).

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.

Printer set up

Your practice will need to consider your processes for printing and how you are going to sort and file paper tokens. You may want to re-consider how your printers are routed and where paper tokens for patients who haven’t got a nomination will be printed.

For example, it may be better for some tokens to be printed in consultation room and other tokens printed in the reception area.

We will supply pilot GP practices with specific printer guidance from prescribing system suppliers. 

Token printing quality

The quality of printing on a Phase 4 token must be of an appropriate quality to ensure pharmacies can scan the barcode to retrieve the prescription from the NHS Spine. To avoid delays in dispensing the patient’s prescription, pharmacies can use the 18-digit Prescription ID to download the prescription manually. However, this is a time-consuming process and should be avoided.

Reporting system issues

If you encounter any issues with your dispensing system during the Phase 4 pilot, these should be raised following your existing process for other EPS-related issues. 

Reporting non-system issues

Any problems or issues that are not system related should be referred to your EPS Implementation Manager as soon as possible.


Last edited: 13 November 2018 12:27 pm