Community pharmacists are likely to be “pleasantly surprised” about the impact of Release 2 of the Electronic Prescription Service, a leading pharmacy IT system supplier has predicted.

Simon Driver, managing director of Cegedim Rx, which supplies 50% of pharmacies in England, said feedback from pharmacies testing EPS R2 functionality was largely positive.

He told EHI Primary Care: “Customers that have actually got it have been pleasantly surprised and I think that will be the case when it is rolled-out.

"Integrating the processes of EPS R2 seems like a huge change, but the feedback we have had is that it’s not a massive piece of software to cope with.”

Driver said some pharmacists remained sceptical about the impact of the Electronic Prescription Service, partly because the process had been slow to get going. EPS R1 did not generate the volume of prescriptions expected and there have been delays in the arrival of EPS R2.

He added: “We were ready a year ago last Christmas, but it has been a very slow process which is mildly frustrating. However, to be fair, NHS Connecting for Health have been very careful about testing, which is understandable.”

Cegedim Rx’s Pharmacy Manager software is expected to receive final roll-out approval next month and Driver said the company’s Nexphase software would be only weeks behind.

Driver said the company was deciding how it would then deploy the system to pharmacists but said a likely option was for every pharmacy to receive the functionality, in readiness for when GP system suppliers become compliant.

Currently only TPP’s SystmOne and INPS’s Vision are involved in initial implementation sites.

“We are going to be in a position where the software is ready but services are not ready to operate it,” he added.

Driver told EHI primary Care that the company had invested “many millions” and about 75% of its development time in developing different electronic transfer of prescription systems for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland over the last few years.

He added: “It has meant we haven’t been able to respond to our customers needs as we would have liked to do but hopefully we will be able to do that now.”

Driver said the company looked to work with its sister company, GP software supplier INPS, on interoperability projects and to follow some of the developments in INPS’s data sharing product Vision 360 in its own software.