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What is the Electronic Prescription Service?

The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) allows prescribers working in primary care settings to generate and transmit electronic prescriptions using their computer system.

The electronic prescription is sent to the Electronic Prescription Service, where it can then be downloaded by a dispenser who has also upgraded their computer system to use EPS.

Patients have the option to choose, or 'nominate' a dispensing contractor to receive their electronic prescription automatically – without the need for any paper.

NHS Connecting for Health has a commitment to ensuring that patient choice and patient safety are not compromised with the introduction of any new service. EPS is being delivered across England using two releases to ensure that these commitments are upheld.

Not only is this approach enabling NHS organisations to manage the introduction of EPS more easily at a local level, but is also giving users the opportunity to become familiar with the new processes before the system becomes fully electronic with Release 2.

Release 1

Four years ago the NHS began adding barcodes to prescriptions. You may have noticed that your prescription form has a barcode printed on it. This means that a pharmacist or dispensing appliance contractor can scan the barcode and your prescription details will appear on the screen.  
Release 1 is almost complete with only a small proportion of prescribing and dispensing sites still not able to use EPS Release 1. Find out more about EPS Release 1.

Release 2

Release 2 of the Electronic Prescription Service allows your GP or practice prescriber to sign and send your prescription electronically to the place you have nominated. It is being carefully introduced in order to ensure that safe and steady progress is made while increasing patient safety and efficiency. Find out more about EPS Release 2.

Who has been consulted?

In order to deliver a robust and fit for purpose system, we have sought input from key stakeholders throughout the design and development of the Electronic Prescription Service. The output from these stakeholder groups has been and will continue to be used to inform communication and guidance material.

Where is it being introduced?

EPS is being introduced in primary care settings across England. These settings include:

  • GP practices (including dispensing GP practices)
  • Community pharmacies
  • Dispensing appliance contractors

Over time, the service will also be introduced in other primary care settings where prescribing and dispensing take place.

You can see which GP practices, pharmacies and dispensing appliance contractors provide EPS in the Deployment section and on NHS Choices.

Why is it needed?

Almost one billion prescription items are issued every year in England. With this figure expected to rise by 5 per cent each year, we need to change from a paper-based system to an electronic one which is more efficient, consistently accurate and able to cope with expected further increases in the number of prescriptions issued.

In particular, about 70 percent of prescriptions issued are for repeat medication, which can be time consuming using the current paper-based system.

This new service has been designed to reduce the paper administration associated with current prescribing and dispensing processes by enabling prescriptions to be generated, transmitted and received electronically.

Dispensers will also be able to submit reimbursement endorsements electronically in order to support claims for payment for medication and appliances supplied. Over time, the need for paper prescriptions will reduce significantly.

Read more about the benefits of the Electronic Prescription Service.