Boots, the retail pharmacy chain, hopes to hear soon whether it has reached the criteria needed to obtain a certificate of deployment for its Smartscript software from NHS Connecting for Health.

The software, which will eventually be used to enable the electronic transfer of prescriptions (ETP) has been installed in the vast majority of Boots’ 1,400 UK stores, according to the company.

A spokesman explained that when ETP was in action, rather than being given paper prescription, patients would nominate the pharmacy where they wanted to pick up their medication. The prescription would be sent over electronically.

He said there would also be a facility which would not require patients to nominate a pharmacy and would allow them to have their prescription made up at any ETP enabled pharmacy. However, the spokesman said the rules had not yet been clarified for how this would work. The software could handle this option, but the policy still needs to be spelled out.

Within the Boots chain, the system is expected build up records for about 20% of the UK population – around 12.5m people.

The spokesman explained that customers would find their records available to authorised staff not only at their regular branch of Boots, but also at other Boots pharmacies.

The first ETP pilot site went live in Keighley, West Yorkshire in February 2005.

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