NHS Digital has announced the launch of a new pilot in general practices in England.
The scheme will enable five GP practices, which currently use the Vision system, to prescribe and deliver Electronic Prescription Service Schedule 2 and 3 Controlled Drugs (EPS CDs) across London and in the north west of the country.
NHS Digital will be in charge of monitoring the prescription and dispensing of EPS CDs.
If the pilot is successful, further practices, that use the GP Vision system, will be entitled to provide EPS Schedule 2 and 3 CDs. In the future, other GP practices, with a different system, could potentially join the list.
Electronic prescriptions currently represent 40% of all prescriptions in England. In the future, this figure is expected to reach around 90%.
EPS does not only enable practices to save time and money but also avoid any prescriptions getting lost in the post.
Nigel Peacock, practice manager at North House Surgery said: The system [EPS] is easy to use and has helped to improve practice efficiencies.
‘EPS has multiple benefits. Patients can order repeat prescriptions without having to bring their prescription back into the practice. If they have an approved prescription for six months, the GP won’t have to see them during this period which obviously saves on staff admin time as well as being much less hassle for patients.’
Until now, practices could only prescribe EPS drugs where patients had nominated their preferred dispensing contractor(s), such as a pharmacy. Under the new pilot, prescriptions will be issued via EPS without a set nomination.
However, paper prescriptions will remain available if patients request them from their GP or if the prescribed drugs are not listed in the NHS Dictionary of Medicines and Devices (dm+d).
GP practices will not be able to prescribe oral liquid methadone via their EPS, as Packaged Dose (PD) endorsement has not been approved by all pharmacy system suppliers yet.
EPS instalment dispensing prescription, or FP10MDA forms, is not yet available via the EPS, until further instruction.