Why is the EPS being introduced?
Around 1.5 million paper prescriptions are issued every working day in England. And about 7 out of 10 prescriptions are repeat prescriptions? To handle this number more efficiently, NHS Connecting for Health are introducing the Electronic Prescription Service in England. This new service lets your GP practice send your prescription electronically to the place you choose to get your medication or appliance from – without the need for paper in some cases. This means there is less need for people with repeat prescriptions to call at their GP practice just to collect a prescription form.
How is the EPS being introduced?
Maintaining patient choice and safety is paramount to the implementation of the Electronic Prescription Service. Initially, only electronic prescriptions destined for a patient’s nominated dispensary will be capable of being signed and sent electronically. This means that hand-signed paper prescriptions featuring a barcode will continue to be issued for prescriptions not being sent to a nominated dispensing contractor. This approach ensures that patient choice is maintained throughout the implementation of Release 2, by allowing patients to go to any dispensing contractor they want, including one not yet operating Release 2. Once the majority of dispensing sites are operating Release 2, subject to a change in legislation, prescribers will be enabled to electronically sign prescriptions that are not being sent to a nominated dispensing contractor. From this point, when a patient requests a paper prescription, the prescriber will generate an unsigned prescription token instead of a hand signed FP10.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is nomination?
The following sections will help you understand more about nomination.
Places you can nominate to receive your electronic prescriptions
You can have up to three different places nominated at any one time, including:
• one pharmacy;
• one dispensing appliance contractor; and, if you are eligible
• your dispensing GP practice.
You can only nominate a place to receive your electronic prescriptions that is using the second stage of the Electronic Prescription Service. To make it easier for you to see which ones are offering the service, they will display the sign shown below. Or, if you have access to the internet, visit NHS Choices and search for pharmacies and dispensing appliance contractors. This will also show which ones are offering the service.
How to nominate
There are three ways to nominate a pharmacy or dispensing appliance contractor to receive your electronic prescriptions:
• you can ask a member of staff at any pharmacy or dispensing appliance contractor that offers the service to record your nomination for you (it doesn’t have to be the one you want to nominate);
• you can ask a member of staff at your GP practice to record your nomination for you;
• over time, you will be able to nominate online at healthspace (you will have to log in).
If you are eligible to collect medication from your GP practice, your GP practice nomination can only be recorded by a member of staff working at that GP practice.
Once you have nominated
Once your nomination is recorded, your GP will send all your future prescriptions electronically to the place you have nominated. You should try to ensure you go to this place to collect your medication or appliance – unless you have made alternative arrangements with your GP practice. If you go elsewhere without making these arrangements you may experience delays in getting your medication or appliance.
Using nomination For repeat prescriptions
You should continue to re-order your repeat prescriptions from your GP in the same way as normal. However, instead of having to make arrangements to collect the prescription from the GP practice, the prescription will be sent electronically to the place you have nominated – meaning you don't have to collect the prescription from your GP practice first. You can then collect/receive your medication or appliance as normal.
Using nomination For 'one off' prescriptions
You can use nomination for prescriptions that you only need to collect once, but as most are issued following a face-to-face consultation, it probably won’t save you a trip to the GP practice.
Changing your nomination
Nomination is very flexible and can be changed or cancelled at any time. You can do this by either:
• asking a member of staff at any pharmacy or dispensing appliance contractor that offers the service;
• asking a member of staff at your GP practice; or
• over time, logging into healthspace.
If you have a repeat prescription, your GP or pharmacist can tell you the best time to change your nomination. This will ensure that your next prescription is sent to the right place. It is important to remember that you don’t have to use nomination on every occasion. If you don’t wish to use nomination for a particular prescription you should let your GP practice know before the prescription is issued.
Choosing not to nominate
If you choose not to nominate, you will continue to get paper prescriptions as you do now. In the future, your prescription can be sent electronically even if you decide not to nominate. However, you will still be required to make arrangements to collect a paper copy of your electronic prescription. The place providing your medication or appliance will need this paper copy in order to process your prescription.
How does the EPS work?
The way that you get your prescription is passed between your GP practice and the place you get your medication or appliance is changing.
Over the past year or so, you may have noticed that your prescription form has had a barcode printed on it. This means that it was produced using the first stage of the new Electronic Prescription Service.
Now, the EPS is moving to the next stage of the service where there is less need for you to receive a paper prescription – unless you want one. At first, if you want your GP to send your prescription electronically, you must choose, or ‘nominate’, a place to receive your electronic prescriptions. This could be a pharmacy, dispensing appliance contractor or your GP practice if you are entitled to collect medication from there. Nomination works in a similar way to a prescription collection service where the pharmacy collects your prescription for you – instead of you having to collect it from your GP practice. The main difference with nomination is that your prescription will be sent electronically and you don’t have to nominate a place that is close to your GP practice. For example, you could choose to nominate a place that is convenient to where you live, work or shop.
Security and confidentiality
The Electronic Prescription Service is:
• secure; and
Only authorised members of staff working in your GP practice, pharmacy and/or dispensing appliance contractor will be able to view your electronic prescription.
While the extent of patient benefits will depend on individual circumstances, they include a more convenient service with a reduction in trips to the GP practice just to collect a paper prescription. This is particularly relevant for patients receiving repeat medication.
Key benefits for patients and their carers
• Reduction in the need to contact the GP practice to reorder and collect prescriptions, particularly once they are on an electronic repeat dispensing regime.
• Greater freedom of choice, making it simpler to use a pharmacist convenient to them.
• Potential to reduce waiting times as the pharmacist can prepare medication items in advance of patient arriving.
• Improved patient safety with electronic cancellation increasing the ability to ensure patients do not receive medication they should not be taking.
When will I be able to start using the Electronic Prescription Service?
Different GP practices, pharmacies and dispensing appliance contractors will start using the second stage of the Electronic Prescription Service at different times. Your prescriptions cannot be sent electronically until your GP practice starts offering the service. Your GP practice can tell you when this will happen or look for the Electronic Prescription Service sign.
A dispensing appliance contractor?
Dispensing appliance contractors, while not able to supply medicines, do supply various appliances such as incontinence and stoma products.
Does using nomination mean I will see my GP less often?
No, it just means that you may not have to call at your GP practice just to collect a prescription.
My carer usually collects my prescription for me. Can they request for nomination to be recorded on my behalf?
Yes, but they will need to know some of your personal information such as your name, date of birth and address to do this.
I use my paper prescription to request my next repeat prescription issue. How can I do this if I don’t receive a paper copy?
As electronic prescriptions are used more and more, GP practices may start offering different ways to order repeat prescriptions that will not require a paper copy of the prescription. However, if you do require a paper copy, simply ask for one when you collect your medication or appliance.
Do I need to be able to use a computer to use the Electronic Prescription Service?
No. The people who provide your prescription and medication will be using a computer.
Can I nominate a chain of pharmacies or dispensing appliance contractors?
You can only nominate a specific location to receive your electronic prescriptions.
Can I choose for my prescription not to be sent using the Electronic Prescription Service?
Yes, but if you decide not to use it, you won’t be able to use nomination. This means you will need to continue to make arrangements to collect your paper prescription from your GP practice.