A new electronic prescription service in Wales has entered a live testing phase, ahead of a phased roll out from January 2024.

The Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio (DMTP) has worked collaboratively with a number of partners in the NHS and industry to bring the new service to fruition.

Over the past 20 months, DMTP, which is hosted by Digital Health and Care Wales, has been working closely with NHS England, who provided the core EPS platform that has been developed for use in Wales. Alongside this, the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership has updated its systems to incorporate digital reimbursement to pharmacies and to put smart care security in place.

The new EPS allows GPs to send prescriptions electronically to the patient’s choice of community pharmacy without the need for a paper form – and patients in Rhyl are the first to trial the new system.

Professor Hamish Laing, senior responsible owner for the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio, said: “We have seen a real desire and commitment from GPs and community pharmacists to adopt this and from the software companies involved to make the necessary changes to their systems as soon as possible.

“The support from colleagues in NHS England and NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership has also made a major contribution, incorporating digital reimbursement to pharmacies and putting security measures in place.

“Our collaborative approach, placing people at the centre and working closely with clinicians, patients and industry suppliers ensures we are delivering a service that meets the needs of all who use it.”

Electronic prescribing is just one part of a wider commitment by the Welsh government to introduce digital medicines and e-prescribing to all hospitals and primary care in Wales.

The EPS project has also involved working closely with 16 suppliers of pharmacy and GP IT systems. The development of the EPS means that each supplier needed to modify their systems to send and receive electronic prescriptions securely.

To support this, DMTP teamed up with Life Sciences Hub Wales and established the Community Pharmacy System Innovation Fund, to provide grants.

Invatech Health’s Titan pharmacy system and EMIS GP system supplier are the first to get their systems ready to go live with EPS in Wales.

Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, EMIS Group chief medical officer, said: “We’ve worked closely with the teams at Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio to implement the new electronic prescription service and we’re delighted to hear from practice staff and patients alike that the new service is already starting to save time and provide a better service for patients.

“The project also includes tech to support further development and the introduction of smartcards for Wales too, which represents a big step in the digitisation programme.”