• Next phase Electronic Prescription Service to be piloted in England

NHS Digital has confirmed that phase 4 of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) will be piloted in 16 GP surgeries across England.

Phase 4 of EPS will see electronic prescriptions become default, rather than paper prescriptions. Patients will be given a token with a barcode on which contains their prescription information. The data can then be downloaded by any pharmacy.

Alastair Buxton, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee director of NHS Services, said: “EPS and paper prescribing systems currently coexist and this drives complexity and costs for pharmacy teams; successful implementation of phase 4 will shift the balance to the majority of scripts being electronic, which in turn will remove the inefficiency of the current dual system.”

He continued: “The pilot is therefore very important and we hope that pharmacy teams close to the pilot GP practices will be willing to participate fully in it, sharing their experiences and feedback, both good and bad.”
In September of last year, more than 5000 GPs in England were using the EPS system and 15 million patients had signed up to move away from paper prescriptions.

The start date for the commencement of phase 4 is yet to be announced, but a spokeswoman for NHS Digital said that information about the pilot was being sent to all pharmacy teams.