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EPS ‘tokens’ pilot delayed to avoid winter pressures

NHS Digital: Timing is too tight to launch general practice trial this autumn

The pilot of electronic prescription service (EPS) “tokens” has been postponed to avoid clashing with “winter pressures” on the NHS, C+D has learned.

The pilot, which was due to be trialled across 16 GP practices in “early autumn”, has now been pushed back to accommodate the expected “intense period” over winter, a spokesperson for NHS Digital told C+D last week (October 3).

Under the “phase four” pilot, patients who have signed up to EPS but have not nominated a pharmacy will be given a paper token to present at any pharmacy in England, which will then be scanned to download the prescription. 

NHS Digital said it originally planned to launch the scheme “before the extra pressures of the winter period”. But while the pilot is “almost ready”, it is “vital that every detail of every aspect of the pilot stage is fully complete” before launch, the spokesperson added.

“A short post­pone­ment will mean the time between launch and winter pressures is tight,” they explained. It will provide a new launch date as soon as it is able.

NHS Digital is also yet to confirm which areas will pilot the new service and how long the trial will last.

In July, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) warned that “all pharmacy teams need to be ready” for the EPS tokens pilot, as affected patients can choose any pharmacy to collect their medicines from.

 In August, NHS Digital told C+D that controlled drugs could be dispensed via EPS from 2017

Find out how Clifford Mann, clinical lead for NHS England’s accident and emergency improvement plan, thinks pharmacists can help alleviate winter pressures on hospitals here. 

What do you think about the latest EPS pilot being postponed?

Mark Ashmore, Superintendent Pharmacist

The reason given of "winter pressures" sounds just a bit too convenient to be true; it sounds like a reply taken from "Yes Minister". I wonder what is really going on.

I wonder what

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Don't know what's new about this... we've had a few people come in since ETP started with green or white tokens that we're not their nominated pharmacy - just scan the token and pull down the Rx. 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""patients who have signed up to EPS but have not nominated a pharmacy will be given a paper token to present at any pharmacy in England, which will then be scanned to download the prescription.""""""

What is this ?? Signed-up for EPS without a Pharmacy being nominated ?? Even so, why print a token to take wherever the patient wants to go, instead of just printing a normal green FP10 prescription, if patient has to come to the GP practice to collect the token ??? Who comes out with these nonsencical ideas ?? 

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

Your comments mirror what is discussed and ignored at events like the Digital Medicines Forum.  The people from NHSD don't seem to realise how foolish they sound to everyone else that attends.  I can't work out how there can be a "trial" at 16 GP sites that affects ALL pharmacy sites whether they want to take part in the trial or not.  I thought taking part in any sort of trial like this would need agreement from ALL parties likely to be affected.  Any sort of IT trial I've agreed to take part in over the many years of digital change has always had me signing a document to agree to take part.  I feel uncomfortable with the way PSNC has rolled over yet again and kind of agreed on pharmacy's behalf, despite, like I've said, the negative grumblings from just about everyone that attends the Forum.  Of course patients cannot be signed up and not nominated.  The GP surgery will be signed up and will just issue a token which the patient can take anywhere.  This is only the first stage of Phase 4 which will eventually lead to electronic means of patients receiving tokens via text message or email that they can take / send / etc to a dispenser of their choice if none nominated.  Its going to be fun watching this unfold.

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