Newham has become the third clinical commissioning group in the country to make the Electronic Prescription Service Release 2 available at all of its GP practices and pharmacies.

The east London borough follows Bexley CCG and Vale Royal CCG in providing full access to the service, which allows GPs to send repeat prescriptions electronically direct to a pharmacy chosen by a patient.

GP Zuhair Zarifa, chair of Newham CCG, explained the benefits the service can have for certain patients.

“The EPS system is a convenient way to help patients get their repeat medicine faster,” he said. “It cuts out unnecessary trips to their GP practice. With EPS your medicine can be ready and waiting for you at the pharmacy of your choice.”

Newham is also the largest area to offer EPS R2 at all of its GP practices and pharmacies, with 61 GP practices covered by the service. This is more than Bexley (28) and Vale Royal (12) put together.

EPS R2 has had a long gestation. It was one of the programmes developed by the National Programme for IT in the NHS, and was once due to be rolled out in 2007.

After a number of delays, caused in part by the need for changes in legislation, the first deployment at a practice and pharmacy finally happened in July 2009.

Since then, the EPS R2 roll-out has been slow but steady.  In October 2014, a spokesperson from the Health and Social Care Information Centre told EHI News that it is aiming for more than 40% of GPs to be live with EPS R2 by the end of March 2015 and for 70% of GPs to be able to use EPS R2 by the end of December 2016.

As of 25 September, 96% of pharmacies (2,770) were live with EPS R2. Electronic prescriptions have recently become a focus of national policy.

This year’s annual planning guidance from NHS England says the commissioning board wants to see EPRS R2 implemented “as a precursor to creating a fully electronic ‘click and collect’ or ‘click and deliver’ service for prescriptions.”

Newham has highlighted several groups that would benefit most from the service.

These include patients who collect their medicine from the same place most of the time and who do not want to go their GP practice to collect a repeat prescription. EPS is also recommended for people who currently use a prescription collection service.

To sign up to EPS, Newham residents need to speak to their local pharmacy or GP practice and specify their pharmacy of choice to pick up their prescription.