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GP practices prescribe controlled drugs electronically in NHS Digital pilot

8 October 2018

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A small number of GP practices have been selected to electronically prescribe controlled drugs (CDs) as part of a pilot scheme, NHS Digital has announced.
A total of 10 practices based in Yorkshire, the North West and London and using the Emis Health and Vision systems, started with the pilot on 2 October.
They are now able to prescribe drugs such as morphine and tramadol that it was previously not possible to send through the electronic prescription service (EPS).
NHS Digital wrote on its website that ‘following successful testing, the functionality to prescribe Schedule 2 and 3 CDs by EPS will be deployed to all Vision and Emis sites’.
Practices involved in the pilot have been asked to contact their local pharmacies to make them aware of the changes, NHS Digital specified.
The pilot started just a month after health and social care secretary Matt Hancock vowed to support all practices that still need to make the switch to EPS.
Prescribing CDs through EPS: the benefits
According to NHS Digital, issuing CD prescriptions electronically has a number of benefits for both patients and practices.  
These include:

  • Patients’ prescriptions are directly sent to their designated practice
  • Sending CDs prescriptions electronically reduces admin work for both GP staff and pharmacies
  • Prescriptions are less likely to be lost or misplaced
  • Pharmacists can check everything that has been prescribed to a particular patient, which helps them make the right decisions when dispensing the drugs to that patient
  • The EPS system reduces the risk of errors

NHS Digital senior clinical lead for digital medicines and pharmacy Dr Vishen Ramkisson said: ‘We are delighted to be working with Vision and Emis to deliver this pilot which we hope will be rolled out further after the trial period.
‘It is another major milestone in implementing electronic prescriptions and helps to support patient safety by reducing the likelihood of errors and improving governance in the prescribing process.’

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