Electronic Prescription Service Allows Pharmacies To Dispense Controlled Drugs

Following a pilot scheme that began in October 2018, NHS Digital is now enabling its Electronic Prescription Service to allow pharmacies to dispense Schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs. The successful trial at 64 GP practices now means that GP practices across England can send controlled drug prescriptions electronically to pharmacies via the Electronic Prescription Service.

The new system means that once a GP practice sends a prescription electronically, dispensers will no longer have to wait to receive split prescriptions. Instead, the dispenser will receive the prescriptions electronically rather than through a paper form.

The main change will be for the dispensers who will need to advise their patients that their items can be sent electronically so that they no longer need to wait for a paper prescription. This applies to all Schedule 2 and 3 Controlled Drugs except for oral liquid methadone. Patients will also need to consider whether they want to set up a nominated pharmacy for their electronic prescription.

What are the benefits of the new system?

  • Reduced administrative burden
  • Electronic records improve the safety of dispensing the correct drugs
  • Reduced risk of errors
  • Patients may no longer need paper prescriptions as they can now opt-in for EPS
  • Prescriptions are secure and will be for the designated patient only
  • Prescriptions sent to a nominated pharmacy with fewer patients with both electronic and paper prescriptions.

The Chairman and Superintendent Pharmacist at Sheffield Associated Chemists (Wicker) Ltd, Martin Bennett MBE said; “Being able to receive prescriptions for controlled drugs electronically is a welcome improvement to the Electronic Prescription Service. It will speed up the process, reduce the potential of errors when prescriptions are handwritten and make the dispensing of controlled drugs safer and more secure.”

While Dr Vishen Ramkisson, the Senior Clinical Lead for Digital Medicines and Pharmacy at NHS Digital explained the benefits of the new system; “More efficient processes and fewer visits to drop-off paper prescriptions will help make sure these patients can be more comfortable. It will mean a better experience for patients and more efficient services for dispensers and prescribers.”

Find out more about the service in this NHS Digital article.


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