Pharmacy bodies and Connecting for Health have teamed up to issue new guidance for pharmacists on release one of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) in an attempt to boost take up of the service.

Although four out of five pharmacies and GP practices are technically live with release one, only one in four prescriptions are being generated using EPS.

The joint guidance from CfH, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and the National Pharmacy Association aims to maximise use of the system.

It says some pharmacies in different parts of the country are using EPS release one to process every bar-coded prescription that arrives in the dispensary. The guidance claims this means that the national EPS infrastructure is working well and that any problems are usually down to local configuration problems.

It says such local problems can be caused by inadequate hardware specification, system configuration, problems with scanning, smartcard problems, a slow internal network and virus software.

The new joint guidance gives advice on resolving technical issues and tips from pharmacists who have already integrated release one into their day to day working practices.

The document provides a series of practical tips taken from pharmacies across the country which use EPS regularly to process bar-coded prescriptions. In addition, pharmacist Julie Carter, who regularly uses EPS, provides her perspective on using the system: “My advice to pharmacists who aren’t using EPS all the time is scan. It will make your life easier and ensure you are familiar with the system ready for when release two comes along.”

The guidance emphasises that while release one was not designed to make the dispensing process quicker, equally it should not make the process slower. The first EPS release two system is due for testing this month.

It says using release one now will enable pharmacists to identify and resolve any problems before EPS becomes business critical with release two and also enable pharmacists and dispensing staff to become familiar with the system.

The advice can be found in a leaflet titled the, ‘Electronic Prescription Service: Practical Advice for Pharmacies Using Release 1’. The leaflet is being sent to all pharmacies in England.