New data on what medicines are prescribed and administered in hospitals is being collected in order to support Covid-19 research.

NHS Digital has established the Hospital Prescribing and Administration resource to collect data from electronic prescription and administration systems daily.

The data is sourced from secondary care NHS trusts in England and is currently limited to those using electronic prescribing and administration systems (EPMA) supplied by WellSky.

The collection will be expanded to include medicines data from a second cohort of trusts using Cerner, going live by autumn 2021.

Steven Marks, programme manager at NHS Digital, said: “Until recently there had been no central information available at patient level in secondary care to aid understanding and research into hospital prescribing practices, so this high-quality data will provide critical insight into how infection is being managed across NHS organisations in response to Covid-19.”

Through linking the data with other NHS Digital data it will help:

  • Support identification of patient groups who might be at higher risk of harm if they contract Covid-19, or show where particular medicines may provide greater protection or poorer outcomes
  • Provide insight into how medicines have been used to treat Covid-19 patients in hospitals
  • Understand patterns of prescribing before, during and after Covid-19
  • Model the impact that treatment of serious infections including antibiotics, antivirals and antifungals has on patient outcomes

Ann Slee, associate CCIO of medicines at NHSX, added: “This is a huge step forward and forms the basis for the longer-term national collection of EPMA data that will support numerous medication safety and other overprescribing initiatives.

“It will help us to further develop the right standards to underpin hospital prescribing and deepen our understanding of and approach to managing challenges such as antimicrobial resistance.”

Data will only be provided to those who can provide sufficient evidence to support their need for the data, such as researchers and those involved in medicines policy.