The Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised a £75 million investment from the government to help NHS hospitals implement e-prescribing systems.

Hunt’s announcement on the Victoria Derbyshire programme today (23 February) followed the publication of a study carried out by the Universities of York, Manchester and Sheffield which revealed that an estimated 237 million medication errors occur in the NHS in England every year.

Speaking on the BBC programme, Hunt announced that the government would be investing £75 million “to help hospitals progress” with implementing e-prescribing systems. (see full video below)

He added: “We know that if you move to electronic prescribing systems rather than paper-based systems that we still have in many hospitals we can eliminate around half of errors.”

His announcement follows a review commissioned by Department of Health and Social Care that looked into medication errors in England.

The review, which was carried out by the Short Life Working Group and published today, recommended that the roll-out and optimisation of hospital e-prescribing and medicines administration systems needs to be “accelerated”.

Figures from November 2017 revealed that just over a third (35%) of acute NHS trusts had rolled out systems where greater than 80% of inpatients prescriptions are written digitally.

For mental health organisations, the number drops to less than 12%.

The review adds that it is hoped the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme will provide “additional blueprints to support implementation” of e-prescribing systems and resolve “current technical challenges” facing trusts.

As reported by Digital Health News in September 2017, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust is due to become the first NHS trust to begin implementation of an open source, open standards-based electronic prescribing system.

The organisation plans to start using the soltuion – the first of its kind – from June this year.

Towards the end of 2017, NHS Digital announced it would be piloting the use of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) in selected integrated urgent care settings across London.