Electronic system set to make prescriptions easier all round

HEALTH chiefs say a new electronic system in Bradford and Airedale will make it easier for many patients to get medicine on prescription.

The new electronic prescription service, which will also reduce the paper mountain for pharmacists, is expected to start in the autumn.

Managers at NHS Bradford and Airedale have applied for permission from the Secretary of State to use the electronic prescription service starting with some pharmacists and GPs from September.

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The system would then be rolled out in waves across the district from October.

NHS Bradford and Airedale says the new system should be more efficient for all involved in issuing, receiving, dispensing and reimbursing prescriptions. It will eventually allow a patient's prescription to be sent electronically, without the need for paper in some cases, to any pharmacy they choose or nominate to collect their medication.

The pharmacy could be near where they live, work or shop, and the patient may no longer need to visit their GP just to collect a paper prescription.

Rachel Urban, community pharmacy development manager of NHS Bradford and Airedale said: "The EPS (Electronic Prescription Service) will make life much easier for many patients, particularly those receiving regular prescriptions, whilst improving the efficiency and reducing the administrative burden for GPs and pharmacists."

The streamlined system will mainly benefit patients receiving repeat prescriptions, which account for around 70 per cent of the 1.5 million paper prescriptions which are issued every working day in England.

This total number of prescriptions is expected to rise by around five per cent each year.

Patients will need to nominate the place from which they want to collect their prescriptions when the system goes live for their GP and pharmacist.

Chemists and GPs will display an EPS sign when they start to operate the new system.

John Pollard, pharmacist from Lloyds Pharmacy at The Ridge practice, said: "When the electronic prescription service is fully up and running it should bring huge benefits for my pharmacy and help us to improve the service we offer to patients.

"We will no longer have the time-consuming task of sorting masses of paper scripts at the end of each month to send to the reimbursement agency and it will really help with planning daily workload .

"The nomination system will help us to manage stock control as, in most cases, we will receive the electronic prescription before the patient arrives."

NHS Bradford and Airedale says the new system will bring many benefits including saving time for patients and GP practice staff by reducing the need for patients to visit their GP practice to collect a prescription.

It is also expected to improve accuracy and safety, be convenient for the patient and reduce pharmacy waiting times as pharmacies will have the opportunity to prepare a prescription in advance of the patient arriving.

Pharmacies currently have to sort and post large volumes of paper prescriptions to the reimbursement agency at the end of each month but in future the information will be transmitted electronically.

Chris Harris, GP from Holycroft surgery in Keighley, said: "I am really looking forward to using the electronic prescription service in the near future. It will mean greater convenience for patients who won't need to order their regular repeat prescriptions as often."

The new system will go live in four waves.