A regulatory impact assessment has given the green light to the next stage of the Electronic Prescriptions Service – one of the national projects being undertaken by NHS Connecting for Health.

The assessment considered whether the government should revert to paper prescriptions or the EPS Release 1, in which electronic messages are attached to paper prescriptions.

But it recommended that EPS Release 2, which will allow patients to select or “nominate” a pharmacy to which their prescription can be sent electronically, should proceed.

It argued this was necessary to improve the management of the large volume of prescriptions in the NHS. In 2007, 763 million prescription items were dispensed in primary care and 392 million paper prescriptions were written, dispensed and sent on for reimbursement. Prescription volumes are rising at about 5% a year.

“Electronic prescription pilots have already been carried out and evaluated,” the assessment published on the DH website says. “They found that electronic prescriptions are technically viable and would be acceptable to patients, pharmacists and GPs.

“Further, by December 2009 an external team will have reviewed how the electronic prescription service has been deployed.”

The transmission of prescriptions by electronic means was first mentioned in the NHS Plan in 2000. The EPS is now managed by CfH, which is rolling it out in two releases.

Release 1 implementer sites have been live since 2005. Suppliers have been preparing their systems for Release 2, for which two waves of early implementers have been identified.

A number of further benefits are planned for Release 2, including the electronic cancellation of prescriptions and support for repeat prescribing.



NHS Connecting for Health EPS website