Use of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) in integrated urgent care settings is to be rolled out nationally following a successful pilot.
It will mean faster processing of prescriptions, enabling out-of-hours and urgent care services to spend more time treating patients.
Patients seeking care out-of-hours or from urgent care settings, such as walk-in centres, minor injuries units, or using NHS 111 will be able to have their prescriptions sent electronically to a pharmacy rather than relying on paper prescriptions.
The service will free up time for doctors and other healthcare workers issuing prescriptions and for pharmacists dispensing those prescriptions, meaning there is more time for patient care.
Pilots in London and the East Midlands took place from December and involved 73 prescribers and 257 dispensers.
Initially the service will be available to settings running the Advanced Adastra system, which accounts for the majority of urgent care settings. NHS Digital is working with other suppliers to develop this functionality in their systems.
Dr Vishen Ramkisson, Senior Clinical Lead at NHS Digital, explained, ‘Reducing winter pressures on the NHS has become a catalyst for change, resulting in new levels of digital innovation that will have profound benefit to patients, care providers and local pharmacies.
‘This is a significant step in extending the benefits of digital prescribing, providing a faster, better and more efficient system for patients, doctors, and pharmacists.
‘Faster processing of prescriptions from NHS 111 and out-of-hours will enable those services to treat more urgent cases or spend more time treating each patient. And a patient who requires nothing more than a short-term supply of an existing medication will no longer need a face-to-face consultation with a clinician.’