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No controlled drugs on EPS until 2018

HSCIC: Trying to minimise impact of delay on EPS developments

HSCIC blames the delay on system suppliers, who do not yet have the capability to process schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs


Pharmacists will not be able to dispense controlled drugs through the electronic prescription service (EPS) until 2018, C+D has learned.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) cannot allow electronic prescriptions for schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs until system suppliers have the capability to process them, which could take another two years, it told C+D last week (February 4).

"We can't risk a controlled drug going to a site that doesn't have the capability," it said.

The Department of Health changed the law last year to allow the drugs, including opiates and barbiturates, to be dispensed through EPS. HSCIC confirmed that central NHS IT systems are now ready to deliver this.

The organisation is "exploring a range of options" to minimise the impact of the delay on the overall development of EPS. "No decisions have been made," it added.


Pharmacists took to Twitter to blast the "outrageous" delay, labelling it a "shambles".

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.


How will dispensing controlled drugs through EPS benefit your pharmacy?

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Leon The Apothecary, Student

With most of the major systems, EPS seems like it's simply bolted onto the side of it, rather then being a core feature. System suppliers would do well to consider a fully implimented package.

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

Again try Analyst. I have used all the other systems and agree that EPS seems to be an addition to the original program, not the case with this one

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

why are people making our lives unnecessarily harder than what they already are?

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

Split scripts (ie green CD items turning up two days after the EPS2 script) are a major headache in my business, so the only people making my life hard are the IT guys

Shamir Patel, Community pharmacist

They reschedule Tramadol to schedule 3. Now one of my most popular drugs is no longer on ETP and leads to major problems chasing green prescriptions. Daft system whereby half the patients items are green and remainder is ETP. Patients simply don't understand the difference 

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Soon to be followed by pregabalin and gabapentin...

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

Thanks for the link.  Just read it.  If this don't change HSCIC's mind about commercial sensitivity protectionism I don't know what will.  Come on, name and shame.  Or alternatively if the rigours put in place by HSCIC for accreditation are impossible to get past, then the supplier(s) that are going to take until 2018 should let everyone know it is not their fault. 

John Willetts, Locum pharmacist

What makes you think it really will be 2018? EPS was delayed by several years There's no sign of any resolution re criminality and dispensing errors {initiated over 5 years ago}. So do you really believe the latest announcements? Oddly enough the cuts are to be implemented almost immediately & with no negotiation. But its all just a coincidence - of course.

During WW2  an enitire Lancaster bomber was manufactured in 24 hours, albeit with technology that's now in a museum. Yet small adjustments to a software programme take 2++ years to implement??


Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

HSCIC refuse to name the supplier(s) that are causing the delay due to "commercial sensitivity".  Don't remember the NHS asking pharmacy contractors if all their dispensing, MUR, NMS, nominations etc etc could go on public display.  Obviously not considered commercially sensitive enough.  I agree with an earlier comment - give them a date to be ready or take away their accreditation.  I'm sure customers of the supplier holding things up would be giving them a kick up the backside if they knew who they were!  Perhaps C&D could do us a favour and ask for FOI request.

Kevin Murphy, Superintendent Pharmacist

Ridiculous! So they cut in 2016 to force through a hub and spoke model that will not be able to dispese all prescriptions electronically until 2018! Now that's joined up thinking!


Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

MAN been to the moon and back supposedly yet we cant hv eps of CDs....tilll 2018

Tariq Iqbal, Accuracy checking technician

Keith Ridge click and collect from the DOH 

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

Hub and spoke and click and collect - but not for CDs -  ha ha ha - they can be dispensed by bricks and mortar or pharmacies or as  we will soon know them - closed ones 

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

"We can't risk a controlled drug going to a site that doesn't have the capability," it said.

Well give them a deadline and take away the accreditation of the system suppliers if they fail to meet it. And this lot are to be trusted with a new NHS IT system for click and collect. Don't hold your breath.



Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

This was discussed at the recent HSCIC forum in Leeds last week. I got the feeling that HSCIC are frustrated by the lack of progress made by pharmacy IT providers. All the major providers were in the room and were not for commenting when directly asked.  Members of HSCIC urged us all to complain to our IT providers ( I did ) about this to spur them into action. The GP systems have user groups who are very active and get results.  However the major issue I think is that the multiple pharmacists have little interest in making anything happen and even if they did are their efforts hampered by their employers? Also why would a system provider such as cedgidem who is at the whims of two major chains care about progress when they are too busy devoting time dealing with what those companies require.

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

All this is hardly surprising when there is only one PMR system currently handling the existing EPS task well. (If you have frequent "spine failures" do not blame HSCIC, talk to your PMR supplier.) Maybe the supplier quoting 2018 for CD scripts is too busy re-writing their system to make it fit for purpose for basic EPS that they don't have any capacity left to consider CDs.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Which PMR system handles EPS well? Compass, ProScript, Pharmacy Manager, and Nexphase all have issues and unable to do certain tasks that's required of them.

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

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