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Prescriptions to be sent electronically to pharmacies in Wales within five years

The Welsh government has unveiled plans for prescriptions to be sent electronically from a prescriber directly to pharmacies.

Earlier this year, the government launched an independent review into ePrescribing in Wales, where hard copies of prescriptions currently must be signed before they can be fulfilled. The review involved stakeholders from across all parts of NHS Wales and concluded in April. Since then, officials have worked with the NHS to develop a plan to introduce ePrescribing “throughout the lifecycle of a prescription”.

According to a statement from the government, published on Monday (September 20), ePrescribing can improve and digitise the way patients, clinicians and pharmacists access and manage the provision of medicines across the health system.

This will include patients’ access to medicines, the prescribing of medication by clinicians, the assurance and dispensing of prescriptions by pharmacists, and the auditing and pricing of medicines by monitoring authorities, it added.


How will it work?


Currently, GPs and other clinicians in primary care in Wales produce prescriptions using electronic solutions, but “must print and sign hard copies that are transported to a pharmacy for fulfilment”. The hard copy prescriptions are archived for reporting by the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership.

The new programme will complete the digitisation of this process so that paper prescriptions and “wet” signatures are replaced by electronic prescriptions and electronic signatures, the government explained.

Minister for health and social services Eluned Morgan explained: “Prescriptions will be sent electronically from the authorising prescriber directly to the pharmacy for fulfilment.”


A welcome change accelerated by the pandemic


Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) is optimistic about the introduction of electronic prescriptions.

“CPW welcomes the statement from the Welsh government in relation to the introduction of ePrescribing in Wales and we look forward to working with the Welsh government in the near future,” a spokesperson told C+D.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) explained that the need for ePrescriptions has been accelerated by the pandemic.

Electronic transfers of prescriptions and secure access to patient medication information have an important role in improving the patient’s experience by increasing convenience and reducing footfall to healthcare premises, reducing prescription and administration errors and ensuring more timely supply of medicines, it said in a statement.

Cheryl Way, chair of the RPS Welsh pharmacy board, called this “an important development” that will improve the information availability and efficiencies for health professionals, but also drive up patient safety and put patients in greater control of their medication regimen”.

“We appreciate this digital programme will be a significant undertaking, requiring complex technical solutions that join up primary, community and secondary care. We are also conscious it will take time to deliver,” Ms Way added.

“We are keen to understand more about how the delivery plans can be taken forward at pace and where the RPS can support our members and the implementation of digital prescribing solutions.”


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