The National Pharmacy Association has said it cannot support the roll-out of Release 2 of the Elevctronic Prescription Service.

The NPA, the trade body which represent more than 6,000 community pharmacies, said it has “significant concerns” about how EPS R2 will work in community pharmacies.

Ian Facer, chairman of the NPA, said the roll-out of EPS R2 was discussed at the Association’s January board meeting.

He said there was a “widespread feeling amongst pharmacists that they are not ‘owning ‘ the project and are excluded from decisions that will impact significantly on their future.”

He told members: “The board emphasised that the NPA cannot support a national roll-out of EPS until such time as end users in pharmacies have had a proper opportunity to scrutinise EPS R2 thoroughly – furnished with all the facts necessary to come to an informed conclusion about the risks and benefits.”

Gareth Jones, NPA NHS liaison manager, told EHI Primary Care that a “truly representative group of end users” should have an opportunity to scrutinise EPS R2 and express their views to decision makers.

He added: “Scrutiny must be transparent and inclusive, building on but going far wider than the existing NHS Connecting for Health reference groups. Consensus views from the end-user community should direct next steps in the roll-out.”

Jones said the NPA had made its position on EPS very clear “publicly and repeatedly”.

He added: “Consistently we have insisted on guarantees that EPS will work technically, be business functional, improve service delivery at pharmacies and is safe for patients, before full roll-out can be contemplated.”

In response, a Department of Health spokesman said: "We share the views of national stakeholders that Release 2 of the EPS needs to have the confidence of end-users.

"Release 2 continues to be used in first of type sites to ensure it is fully tested before suppliers receive approval to roll out to pharmacies across England.

"Concerns raised with us will be taken into account as we continue working with all stakeholders, including the initial implementer PCTs and their clinicians, and pharmacy and GP bodies, to ensure that the significant benefits of EPS to patients and healthcare professionals are fully realised."