A pilot of the electronic prescription service (EPS) Phase 4 has been rolled out in eight GP practices in Greater Manchester, Essex, south-east London and Devon, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said in a statement last week (December 10).
Up to 11 more GP surgeries are scheduled to join the pilot in January, PSNC said.
“If the pilot is determined as successful, EPS Phase 4 will be deployed to further sites after January 2019,” it added.
In EPS Phase 4, patients receive a paper barcode from a GP, which they can take to any pharmacy in England for the pharmacy to download their prescriptions from the central NHS spine.
Previously, patients using the EPS could only receive prescriptions from a pharmacy that they had nominated.
In EPS Phase 4 the barcode will be on paper, but “in time may be available in an electronic format” such as via email or through an app, PSNC said. The barcode will replace the hand-signed prescription, though both are on paper.
“Helping with efficiency”
Farhan Ali, a pharmacist manager at a Lloydspharmacy in Ramsbottom, Manchester – one of the first stores to dispense an unnominated prescription – told C+D earlier this month that the move “is helping with the efficiency of the pharmacy”.
Mr Ali said: “Less phone calls to surgeries to track unattributed prescriptions means we can spend more time in the pharmacy, spending meaningful time with patients.”
NHS Digital – which launched the service last month (November 30) – said the move will save time and make prescriptions more secure. The pilot will also reduce paper processing, as pharmacies dispensing via EPS Phase 4 do not have to send paper records to the NHS Business Services Authority, it added.