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Electronic prescriptions pilot launched in Wales ahead of January rollout

The first electronic prescription service (EPS) in Wales has been launched, the Welsh government has announced. 

For the first time, prescriptions in Wales will not have to be printed and signed by hand thanks to a new electronic prescription service (EPS) that launched last week (November 17).

The Welsh government announced that the service will allow “GPs to send prescriptions securely online to the patient’s choice of community pharmacy, without the need for a paper form”.

It said that EPS is first entering “a live phase of testing” in Rhyl, north-east Wales, starting with just one GP practice and pharmacy – Rhyl’s Lakeside Medical Centre and Wellington Road Pharmacy.

Electronic prescriptions will be “gradually rolled out across Wales from January 2024”, it added.

The service will also allow pharmacists to be reimbursed digitally as “part of a wider commitment to introduce digital medicines and e-prescribing in all hospitals and primary care in Wales”, the government added.

 

“A major milestone”

 

Minister for health and social services Eluned Morgan, who visited the pharmacy launching EPS last week, said that the service was “the start” of “an exciting digital transformation that will completely change the way prescriptions are managed”.

She thanked the pharmacy and GP practice trialling the system and said the launch was “a major milestone” towards “digitising every prescription” in Wales.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer (CPhO) for Wales Andrew Evans said that “digital innovation is key to improving the prescription service”.

He stressed the importance of a live testing phase, highlighting that “it is critical these changes are introduced safely”.

Senior responsible owner for the digital medicines transformation portfolio Professor Hamish Laing added that the government has seen "a real desire and commitment from GPs and community pharmacists to adopt” EPS.

The new system will replicate that used in England, where the first EPS prescription was sent 18 years ago.

In February, NHS Digital announced that “almost one billion” prescription items had been dispensed electronically in England in the past 12 months, making it the “default” dispensing method in the country.

In 2022, C+D reported that a “small number” of pharmacies in Wales would trial an EPS during the summer of 2023 with an aim to having EPS in all Welsh pharmacies over the next couple of years.

Ms Morgan echoed this in January, saying that the rollout of an EPS in Wales could begin this summer.

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