A pilot of EPS Phase Four – at which point electronic prescriptions, rather than paper, become the default option for patients – will run across a “small number of GP practices” later in 2016, PSNC announced last week (July 21).
Currently, patients using EPS need to nominate a pharmacy to collect their medicines from, but this will not be a requirement in future, as the majority of prescriptions are expected to be signed and sent electronically.
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.
Pharmacists must know what to do
“As patients are free to choose any pharmacy to get their medicines dispensed from, all pharmacy teams will need to be ready and know what to do should a patient present a non-nominated token in their pharmacy,” PSNC said.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) is yet to confirm which areas will pilot the new service and how long they will last. However, PSNC warned that “pharmacy teams that are close to GP practices in the pilot and that receive many prescriptions from the practice will be most impacted”.
It will be contacting local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) which have pilot sites in their area, to seek their assistance, PSNC said.
National rollout will "not automatically” follow
PSNC acknowledged that these issues would need to be addressed, before the tokens are rolled out nationally. This rollout would "not automatically follow the successful completion of the pilot", it added.