The pilot to enable GP practices to prescribe schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs through the electronic prescription service (EPS) went live on Tuesday (October 2), NHS Digital confirmed to C+D.
Ten GP practices using the IT systems Vision and EMIS in Yorkshire, the north west and London are now able to send controlled drugs such as morphine and tramadol via EPS, it said.
However, as patients can choose to have their prescriptions dispensed anywhere in England, all pharmacies need to be aware they could receive an electronic prescription for controlled drugs, NHS Digital added.
There are some exceptions to the service – including “oral liquid methadone with a packaged dose endorsement”, as “not all dispensing systems are able to endorse electronic prescriptions” for the product, it explained.
“A paper prescription will still need to be generated for this drug.”
Prescribers will also not be able to use EPS for prescribing in instalments, it stressed.
“Fewer patient visits”
Dr Vishen Ramkisson, NHS Digital senior clinical lead for digital medicines and pharmacy, told C+D the organisation hopes the pilot “will be rolled out further after the trial period”.
“It is another major milestone in implementing electronic prescriptions and helps to support patient safety by reducing the likelihood of errors and improving governance in the prescribing process,” he added.
“More efficient processes and fewer visits to drop off paper prescriptions will help make sure these patients can be more comfortable.”
More information on the EPS controlled drugs pilot can be found on the NHS Digital website.