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EPS now 'default' as almost 1bn items dispensed electronically in 2021/22

The electronic prescription service (EPS) is now the “default” method for prescribing and dispensing prescriptions in England, NHS Digital has said.

“Almost one billion” prescription items were dispensed electronically in the last 12 months, NHS Digital announced yesterday (February 8).

This means that the EPS “is now the default method for prescribing and dispensing prescriptions in primary care in England”, with less than one in 20 still paper based, it said.

The number of electronic prescriptions sent to community pharmacies has “almost doubled” in the past five years, NHS Digital added.

Read more: Rollout of Welsh electronic prescription service could begin this summer

Electronic prescriptions topped 996 million in 2021/2022 compared to 532 million in 2016/17 – representing 95% and 52% of prescriptions respectively – and 11,400 pharmacies have now signed up to use the service, it said.
And the total number of items dispensed each year has also grown from 1.02 billion in 2016/17 to 1.04 billion in 2021/2022, it added.


“Revolutionary” service


NHS England chief pharmacy and medicines information officer Rahul Singal said that he’d “be pushed to think of another national system that’s had more success”.

He highlighted “the number of transactions that are made via the service and how much it’s revolutionised practice in general practice and community pharmacy”.

“Our next focus is to introduce EPS into more care settings, including more health settings such as hospital outpatient departments so the benefits can be realised for even more clinicians and patients across the NHS,” he added.

Read more: Online pharmacies ‘disrupting the market’, wholesalers told

West Yorkshire GP Dr Adeem Rubani said EPS has benefits for “patient safety”, for example “if we change or cancel a prescription we can amend it in the system instead of phoning the pharmacy and making sure the paper slip is destroyed”.
And out-of-hours GPs can “look in the system to see the opening hours and addresses of pharmacies to help decide which is the most convenient one” to send a patient’s prescription to, he added.
The EPS has “been a game-changer”, said Dr Rubani, whose surgery Ling House Medical Centre was where the first electronic prescription was sent 18 years ago.
Currently, GPs in Wales can produce digital prescriptions but must print and sign hard copies to be fulfilled at the pharmacy.

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