Working to improve EPS for contractors

The Electronic prescription service (EPS) is run by the NHS Digital. Pharmacy Medicine Record (PMR) systems connect to that over NHSnet often via a network aggregator.

Pharmacy Voice seeks to Influence NHS Digital, PMR system suppliers, and other involved parties to secure an improved Electronic Prescription Service.

As of April 2016, 98.6% of all community pharmacies in England are EPS release 2 capable, and overall the system has now surpassed 1 million prescription in a day so there is good progress. However, there are a number of ways the EPS could be optimised.

Pharmacy Voice believes strongly that pharmacies, prescribers and patients need the system to ‘just work.‘ To date, Pharmacy Voice has collated 85 desirable improvements that cover, fixes and changes. We are bringing pressure to bear to stakeholders, especially where there is a patient safety aspect.

We want to see one workflow that is electronic, that will:

  • Cope with schedule 2 & 3 controlled drugs
  • Allow electronic prescriptions even where a patient has not nominated a dispenser. This is also known as EPS Phase 4


EPS Phase 4 pilot update 24/8/2016

In Phase 4, electronic rather than paper prescriptions become standard. The trial will take place in conjunction with a small number of pilot GP practices.

Currently, patients need a nomination to use EPS, but the next phase will mean that the majority of prescriptions will be signed  for and sent electronically, even for patients who don’t have a nomination. Over 19 million patients already have a nomination and nothing will change for them. All existing nominations will remain valid and further nominations for appropriate patients should continue to be set. You don’t need to do anything with those nominations already set.

Patients without a nomination will be given a paper token by their pilot GP practice (Patients may refer to these as “paper copies” of their prescription).

All pharmacies will need to be ready and know what to do should a patient present a token in your pharmacy. Remember patients can take their token to any pharmacy in England.

  • You will need to scan the unique barcode on the token, or enter the barcode number to retrieve the prescription, as these will not come through on your bulk downloads (overnight or manual).
  • A token won’t be hand signed by a prescriber because the prescription will have been signed electronically, in the same manner as nominated prescriptions.
  • The legal prescription is electronic, so you should always scan the token to get the legal prescription before dispensing to ensure that the prescription is still valid.
  • You will need to send dispense and reimbursement notifications for these prescriptions in the same way as you do for nominated (electronic) prescriptions now. As for all R2 electronic prescriptions, any dispenser endorsements need to be entered in your PMR, not written on the paper token.
  • Only items that are non-compliant (for example items which are not listed in the NHS drug database, dm+d) will be printed on a paper FP10 and hand-signed by the prescriber.

For patients that are part of a Prescription Collection Service but don’t have a nomination, a token will be printed (instead of an FP10) for the pharmacy to collect.

If your local GP Practice is taking part in the pilot

If you are a pharmacy that currently receives many prescriptions from one of the pilot GP practices there will be factsheets available and animation videos to explain the process. NHS Digital will be contacting you directly with more information. Pharmacies affected by the pilot will be processing a larger volume of electronic prescriptions.

Encouraging your patients to set a nomination

Many of the EPS benefits are associated with nomination, therefore when EPS progresses to Phase 4, it is important that patients continue to be given the opportunity to benefit from using nomination.

You may want to encourage more of your patients to set up a nomination if they:

  • obtain regular prescriptions
  • use your pharmacy every time
  • are already using your Prescription Collection Service

Patient consent is still required for nomination and it’s up to the patient to decide to nominate or not. Patients can only nominate one pharmacy at a time and they can change or remove it whenever they like.

Patients who receive medication and appliances can set one nomination for a pharmacy and another one for their dispensing appliance contractor (DAC), where appropriate.

Once a patient has a nomination in place, if they receive repeat prescriptions, they won’t need to visit the GP practice to collect a token, because the prescription will have already been sent electronically to their nominated pharmacy.