The sites have not yet been chosen, but will be “spread geographically across England”, a spokesperson for NHS Digital – formerly the Health and Social Care Information Centre – told C+D last week (July 27).
Under the pilot, patients who have not nominated a pharmacy through EPS will be given a paper token with a barcode to present to any pharmacy in England. Pharmacists will need to scan the barcode to download the prescription.
Each GP pilot site will run for “approximately four months”, the spokesperson added.
A start date for the pilots is yet to be determined, but NHS Digital reiterated that “pharmacies that currently receive many prescriptions from one of the pilot practices will be provided with factsheets and animation videos to explain the process”.
Last month, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said that “all pharmacy teams need to be ready” for the pilot, as patients can choose any pharmacy to collect their medicines from.
Testing the full rollout of EPS "tokens"
PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said the pilot will help community pharmacy and the NHS "test the move" to making EPS the default option for patients, before a national rollout is considered.
"The pilot is very important and we hope that pharmacy teams close to the pilot GP practices will be willing to participate fully in it, sharing their experiences and feedback, both good and bad," he said.
"If your local GP practice is taking part in the pilot, your pharmacy will be contacted directly by [NHS Digital] so that you and your team can receive additional support," he added.
Pharmacy teams nearest the GP practice pilots are “most likely to be impacted” by the testing of EPS "tokens", PSNC stressed.
Both PSNC and NHS Digital said they will provide pharmacies with further information about the pilot online and via direct mail.