Over half of all NHS prescriptions issued in Scotland are now sent electronically, latest figures show.

Since the start of electronic transfer of prescriptions (ETP) in Scotland in January 2008, 7.72 million prescriptions have been sent electronically. In July this figure reached 1.955 million — more than 50% of all the prescriptions issued.

ETP is the cornerstone of the electronic acute medication service (eAMS), one of the four core services in the community pharmacy contract in Scotland.

Alison Strath, principal pharmaceutical officer, Scottish Government, said that by 1 August 2008, 58% of general practices and 43% of community pharmacies were eAMS-enabled.

The Scottish Government expects 90% of general practices and 75% of community pharmacies to be enabled by September, with the remainder installing eAMS in October or November 2008.

Strath said: “We had originally set ourselves a deadline for reaching 100% ETP by the end of September but the scale of the roll out for some of the large pharmacy systems has challenged that. Our view now is that by the end of the year we should have 100% done and dusted.”

Feedback from GPs and community pharmacies has been positive, she added.

“It has involved a change in the way they work but they appreciate the patient safety aspects that are built into the system such as not having to transfer patient data manually when creating a new patient record.”

Response times for requesting electronic messages averaged two seconds. Pharmacists said the system was saving them time.

“We have tried to keep it business as usual for GPs” added Strath. “The real benefits for them will come as we develop electronic repeat prescriptions next year.”