Following successful testing, NHS Digital is rolling out Schedule 2 and 3 Controlled Drugs (CDs) via the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS).
The functionality has been trialled across 64 GP practices across England since pilots began in October last year.
GP practices will be able to send all Schedule 2 & 3 CDs, except oral liquid methadone, electronically via EPS. (1) Once a GP practice is able to send CDs via EPS, dispensers will no longer receive split prescriptions from them. This update means dispensers will see an increase these prescriptions electronically over the service, rather than in paper form. (2)
The benefits of prescribing controlled drugs through EPS are:
- All prescriptions sent electronically to their nominated pharmacy, meaning that there will be fewer patients who have both paper and electronic prescriptions.
- Reduced administrative burden on both GP practices and pharmacy staff.
- Electronic prescriptions are more secure and can’t be lost, misplaced or get into the hands of someone other than the patient.
- Electronic records inform pharmacists to support them to safely and effectively dispense the right drugs for patients.
- Patients who had chosen not to use EPS because they still had paper prescriptions for controlled drugs can now opt-in.
- Patient safety is increased as errors are less likely.
Dr Vishen Ramkisson, Senior Clinical Lead for Digital Medicines and Pharmacy at NHS Digital, said:
“This will make a particular difference to those who need controlled drugs the most, such as those nearing end of life who use this medication to manage pain and control unpleasant symptoms. 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.
“The pilot has completed with excellent results, making us confident to roll out the process nationally.”
Martin Bennett MBE, Chairman & Superintendent Pharmacist at Sheffield-based Associated Chemists (Wicker) Ltd, 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.”
- A paper NHS FP10 (green) prescription will still need to be generated for oral liquid methadone, as dispensing systems are unable to endorse electronic prescriptions with a packaged dose endorsement.
- All dispensers can view the switch-on timings for GP practices in their area on the NHS Digital website here.