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New NHS plan will digitize all prescriptions

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Paper prescriptions will be done away with next month as part of a new NHS plan designed to save £300m over two years and primary care minister Jo Churchill has announced that all prescriptions across England will be digitized.

The electronic prescription service (EPS) will be rolled out on a nation-wide scale once a trial run in 60 GP practices and hundreds of pharmacies is complete.

Currently up to 70 percent of all prescriptions are being prescribed and dispensed through EPS. GPs and pharmacies have already given the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) positive feedback on the service.

While the first EPS went live in 2009 at a GP surgery and pharmacy in Leeds, once the final stage is rolled out, almost all prescriptions will be sent electronically. Going forward, patients will be able to get their medications by either nominating a pharmacy to receive details directly from their GP or they will receive a paper prescription that has a digital barcode on it.

Digital prescriptions

The medical information of patients in England is stored on a secure NHS database called Spine which will allow a patient's prescription to be easily accessed by GPs and pharmacies.

According to the DHSC, the EPS is expected to save the NHS £300m by 2021 by increasing efficiency and reducing prescribing errors and the amount of paper processing.

Patients will be able to digitally sign for and cancel electronic prescriptions. This will reduce the amount of administration required to store prescriptions as well as the volume of prescriptions which need to be stored.

Primary care minister Jo Churchill provided further details on the NHS' plan to digitize prescriptions, saying:

“Digitising the entire prescription service is a key part of keeping up the drive to make the NHS fit for the 21st century. This will free up vital time for GPs and allow pharmacists to spend more time with their patients, and save millions of pounds a year. It’s another important step towards eventually making all prescriptions paperless. We are continuing to improve technology across the NHS, which will ultimately improve care for patients.”

Via The Guardian (opens in new tab)

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.