Scotland has announced that it has become the first country in the UK to deliver an electronic prescription service, with more than 90% of prescriptions now submitted electronically.

Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the electronic Acute Medication Service (eAMS) was the first national system of its kind to go live anywhere in the UK and was now enabled in 99% of Scottish GP practices and pharmacies.

The eAMS prints a barcode on prescriptions at a GP surgery and sends a message to Scotland’s ePharmacy Message Store.

When a patient presents at a pharmacy with their barcoded prescription, the pharmacist can scan the barcode to pull down the prescription and dispense the medicine.

Dispensing a prescription triggers the creation of an electronic claim message to NHS National Services Scotland (NSS).

The Scottish government said eAMS cuts the risk of errors between GPs and pharmacists, delivers improvements such as the use of universal codes for virtually all medicines, and boosts efficiency.

Sturgeon added: “With eAMS we are now seeing more than 90% of prescriptions submitted electronically. This shows the demand among GPs and pharmacists to work together to make the best use of the latest technology to improve services for patients.”

Sturgeon said the early adopter phase of the Chronic Medication Service had also begun in Fife.

Under the CMS, patients with long term conditions can register with a pharmacist. This allows their GP to produce a 24 or 48 week serial prescription for them, dispensed at time intervals determined by the GP.

In addition, the pharmacist will draw up detailed pharmaceutical care plans with the patient and carry out medicines reviews.

The Scottish government said patients would continue to be given traditional paper prescriptions in addition to the electronic version and that this would continue until the system is well-established.

“There is no intention of moving to an entirely paperless prescribing system,” it added.

The Atos Origin Alliance designed, built and operates the eAMS. Scott Haldane, managing director of the Atos Origin Alliance, said eAMS brought benefits to patients, GPs, community pharmacists and NSS.

He added: “We are proud to be involved in a service in which Scotland is taking the lead and one that involves real partnership and collaboration between so many different entities.”