GP practices that still have to ditch paper prescriptions will receive support by the Health and Social Care secretary to switch to electronic prescribing.
Matt Hancock announced that the Government will change the regulations that currently limit the issuing of electronic prescriptions later this year.
At present, electronic prescriptions can be used where a patient has a nominated pharmacy to avoid patients from going to a pharmacy that could not receive electronic prescriptions. Nearly all English pharmacies (99%) can now receive electronic prescriptions.
The DHSC said in a statement: ‘Subject to agreement on the necessary regulatory changes this is hoped to start a controlled roll-out from autumn 2018.’
Only 510 GP practices still need to make the switch to the electronic prescription service (EPS), with 6,842 (93%) benefitting from the service, according to figures collected by NHS Digital.
Earlier last month, NHS Digital revealed that all eligible London practices had successfully implemented EPS. The Government prediced it could save up to £300m by 2021.
The service also benefits patients and practice staff, as patients no longer need to pick up their prescriptions from their practice and practice staff no longer has to spend time finding or reprinting lost prescriptions, for instance.
Mr Hancock said that while many GP surgeries and pharmacies are already ‘enjoying the benefits of electronic prescriptions, it can’t be right that there are occasions when archaic paper prescriptions still have to be used’.
He added: ‘I want the NHS to become the most advanced healthcare system in the world. Electronic prescribing both saves GPs’ time and helps to give patients a better, more seamless experience and ensures every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent effectively.’