Six NHS health boards across the North of Scotland have gone live with a joint electronic medicines management platform from System C that will enhance clinical decision-making and reduce the risk of prescribing errors.

It marks the first-ever multi-locality deployment of System C’s pharmacy stock control (PSC) and hospital electronic prescribing medicines administration (HEPMA) systems. NHS Grampian, Western Isles, Highland, Tayside, Orkney and Shetland are all replacing paper prescriptions, drug charts and existing medication systems with the new electronic medicines management platform.

Staff at over 66 hospitals, looking after 5,163 beds will now be able to digitally prescribe and manage medicines on the cloud-based system. As a result, the legibility and accuracy of prescriptions will be improved, time spent on transcription will be reduced and more than 25,000 staff will be able to gain remote access to patient medication information.

Heather Binns, North of Scotland HEPMA senior programme manager said: “Embedding a multi-site HEPMA and PSC has never been attempted on this scale before and whilst it was a significant challenge, the regional collaboration brought the collective benefits of sharing knowledge, best practice, and creating new ways of working.

“This approach delivered greater integration, improved resilience and demonstrated there are substantial benefits for patients and staff to working regionally.”

Supported by the Scottish Government, the programme was started back in March 2020, led by a central regional team as well as clinical, pharmacy, finance and digital staff from across the region. In October 2021, System C replaced the existing PSC systems with its single integrated PSC, giving prescribers the most clinically-appropriate catalogue of medicines available to them.

Next, in 2022, System C collaborated with the six health teams to design the workflows, set up the system, and undertake comprehensive user testing. Between February and November 2023, a staggered go-live was achieved across all health boards. The hospital electronic prescribing medicines administration system is now deployed in 64% of the North of Scotland – with all of the region predicted to gain access by October 2024.

David Pfleger, director of pharmacy, NHS Grampian and senior responsible owner for HEPMA, said: “In line with the government’s aspiration for regional collaboration we wanted to join forces across the six North of Scotland boards to embed this system once and do it well.

“It is such an achievement to have 330 wards across 66 hospitals using one medication prescribing and administration system. The benefits the system will bring in terms of medication-related safety, standardisation delivered through using a single system and access to medication records by teams operating in different boards but caring for the same patient are significant and valuable.

“As the system matures, the paradigm shift it will offer in the availability of data will bring a raft of clinical and corporate governance benefits to support our staff and benefit our patients.”

In January of this year, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust became the first specialist paediatric trust to integrate System C’s CareFlow Medicines Management (CMM) across the EPR platform.