NHS Digital – formerly the Health and Social Care Information Centre – told C+D in February that EPS would not be able to handle prescriptions for schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs until 2018, when system suppliers would have the capability to process them.
But NHS Digital revealed to C+D yesterday (August 2) that it “will be testing a way of allowing controlled drugs to be prescribed and dispensed using [EPS]”.
“If the tests are successful, we hope this service will be available in 2017,” a spokesperson said.
“Available by all suppliers”
NHS Digital would not provide any further details about the test, but said the plans are “dependent on new functionality being made available by all prescribing system suppliers”.
The test will run separately to the pilot of EPS “tokens”, due to run across 16 GP practices in England later this year.
More on controlled drugs
The Department of Health changed the law last year to allow schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs, including opiates and barbiturates, to be dispensed through EPS. NHS Digital confirmed in February that central NHS IT systems are now ready to deliver this.
Since 2005, drugs controlled under schedules 4 and 5 — such as diazepam and preparations containing low strengths of more heavily regulated drugs — have been prescribed electronically.