Patients in Conwy are the second community in Wales to be able to use the new electronic prescription service, allowing healthcare providers to send prescriptions securely online to the patient’s chosen pharmacy.

Electronic prescriptions are now being sent from Llanfairfechan’s Plas Menai Surgery to two local pharmacies, Boots in Llanfairfechan and Gwynan Edwards in Penmaenmawr.

The new EPS means clinicians are no longer required to print and sign paper prescription forms which have been used for more than 60 years, streamlining the process.

Jenny Pugh-Jones, senior responsible owner of the Primary Care Electronic Prescription Service in Wales, told Digital Health: “The Electronic Prescription Service will make things easier, safer and more efficient for patients of Plas Menai Surgery who usually go to the two pharmacies now using EPS. Benefits include not needing to visit the surgery just to collect a prescription – for example, patients who collect their repeat prescriptions from the surgery or patients who require a prescription following a telephone or virtual consultation will be able to collect directly from their pharmacy.

“It will also allow the pharmacy and GP practice to see where the prescription is at any time, reducing unnecessary phone calls and trips for patients between the practice and pharmacy.

“EPS is safe and secure, as only the staff who would currently manage a paper prescription can see the electronic prescription. It is also better for the environment, as it will help to reduce the amount of paper printed by the NHS in Wales.”

The EPS in Wales was first launched in Rhyl in November last year. A phased national roll-out is now taking place.

The delivery of an EPS in Wales is a key part of the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio. On behalf of the Welsh government, this has brought together the programmes and projects that will deliver the benefits of a fully digital prescribing approach across Wales.

Future developments for the EPS include integration with the NHS Wales app. Pugh-Jones explained: “EPS will integrate with the NHS Wales app, which will be available for all Welsh GP practices by end of March 2024, and will, with an accompanying desktop website, offer access to a range of health and care services through smartphones, tablets and personal computers.

“Good progress is being made on two core medicines features in the app, namely a push notification feature, to be sent by a pharmacy to tell patients that their prescription is ready, and a feature enabling patients to ‘nominate’, or choose, the pharmacy to receive their electronic prescription(s) for dispensing. Push notification testing with the first suppliers is due to finish by the end of March, while the ‘Nominate a pharmacy’ function is expected to be live within the app by the end of June.”

Each pharmacy system supplier must undergo a rigorous testing process to ensure that safety and minimum standards are adhered to. The first phase of implementation for further pharmacy suppliers is to take place through summer 2024.