Every eligible GP practice in London has now introduced the electronic prescription service, NHS Digital has said.
A total of 1,311 GP surgeries across the UK capital can now use the paperless system to send patient prescriptions directly from the practice to a pharmacist.
The most immediate boon of the electronic prescription service (EPS) is that it cuts out unnecessary steps for patients, who have previously had to take a physical prescription printed by a doctor to a pharmacy.
It began being pushed out nationally across urgent care settings in April.
Keith Farrar, senior responsible owner for digital medicines at NHS England, said: “I am really pleased that this service is now available to all London GPs. EPS supports the seamless flow of information about prescription needs for patients and reduces administrative time, freeing up resources for direct patient care.
“This is a tremendous achievement from a great many people involved behind the scenes in improving the delivery of care to patients.”
NHS Digital estimates that EPS has saved the NHS some £130m over the past three years.
It also aims to make referrals for first, consultant-led, outpatient appointments paperless at every UK practice by October this year.
Along with cutting time, cost and hassle in general, EPS cuts practices’ reliance on paper, a central theme of the ever-shifting ‘Paperless NHS’ agenda.
Jignesh Patel, a pharmacist at Rohpharm Pharmacy in Plaistow, said: “The electronic prescription service has been fantastic in releasing us from carrying out a lot of paperwork and having to store a big paper audit trail as everything is now stored digitally.
“It is saving us a lot of time and, when GPs use electronic repeat dispensing, it can save themselves, patients and pharmacists even more time.”
EPS has paved the way for electronic repeat dispensing (eRD), which allows prescribers to authorise a batch of prescriptions for regular medicines for up to 12 months at one time.
This means patients don’t need to keep returning to their doctor’s surgery to collect repeat prescriptions – a bugbear that start-ups have sought to solve with apps such as Echo.
Alastair Grenfell, head of NHS Digital’s London Implementation and Business Change team, said: “Reaching every GP practice in London has been a significant challenge and I’m both pleased and proud of all those in the NHS Digital team and those in the wider NHS that have worked hard to achieve this fantastic result.”