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NHS reforms ‘could force national roll-out’ of electronic prescriptions

The NHS reforms and dissolution of PCTs could precipitate national roll-out of the second phase of the electronic prescription service (EPS), Rx Systems sales director Stephen Hards has suggested.

More than 80 PCTs to date had gained the secretary of state approval needed for GP deployment of EPS release 2, Mr Hards said, but it was unclear how this would progress when the trusts were dissolved next April.

"EPS won't roll out until we're fully satisfied that it's as fully operationally secure as it can be" Sue Sharpe, PSNC

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"We could find ourselves in a situation where there could just be national roll-out of EPS release 2," he told the Avicenna Conference 2012 in Sri Lanka this weekend.

But PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe told the conference – via a pre-recorded video presentation – that the negotiator was working with the Department of Health, NHS Connecting for Health and the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) to ensure "careful, staged deployment" of EPS in order to identify problems ahead of wider roll-out.

PSNC is also trying to ensure "a complete audit trail" to aid the accuracy of prescription payments to pharmacies from the BSA under the electronic system, she said.

"It's going to take a little bit of time," Ms Sharpe said. "We are concerned that there's a pressure to roll out EPS and we're making sure that – so far as we can – it won't roll out until we're fully satisfied that it's as fully operationally secure as it can be."

But Mr Hards reiterated calls for community pharmacists to implement release 2, even if they were not in a GP-deployed area, warning that there were both technological upgrade and learning lead-times needed to become operational. "Whether you agree with the way it's been rolled out or not, it's happening," he said.

There remained practical problems with the second phase of EPS, Mr Hards recognised, but he claimed that should not prevent pharmacists from upgrading their systems – and it should be cost-free as contractual funding covered the costs, he said.

"Its better to have EPS release 2 in your pharmacy and have an opinion on it than to not have EPS release 2 in your pharmacy and have an opinion on it," he argued.

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Leon The Apothecary, Student

I was personally under the impression we are all being forced into using EPS regardless.

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

Mr Hands should behave a bit more responsibly instead of trying to scaremonger contractors into make capital spending decisions immediately. We have more important issues to deal with like managing category M cashflow issues.

I have been hearing the same old drooling music coming out of these money hungry IT houses. Above inflation price increases, onerous contracts, poor service support!!! Dont coming knocking on our doors to fund your extravagance!

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