Prescriptions will be sent electronically from the GP to the pharmacy. © Blend Images/Getty Images
Prescriptions will be sent electronically from the GP to the pharmacy. © Blend Images/Getty Images

Electronic prescriptions to save NHS £300m

21 October 2019

The rollout of an electronic prescription service will save the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) £300m by increasing efficiencies by 2021, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). 

The digitised prescription service will cut back on paper, administration, and the volume of prescriptions stored by the health service.

A unique barcode will be assigned to each patient, which can be scanned at any pharmacy to retrieve medical details stored on a secure database.

The service will increase efficiencies by eliminating the need for patients to pick up repeat prescriptions from their doctor and by allowing pharmacists to sign and cancel prescriptions digitally, resulting in less administration.

The new system will be launched nationally in November, following a testing period involving 60 doctors’ practices and hundreds of pharmacies. Almost 70% of prescriptions are already being prescribed and dispensed through the system.

Dr Ian Lowry, director of digital medicines and pharmacy at NHS Digital, said: “Every prescription that is sent electronically saves money for the NHS by increasing efficiency.”

“The system is also safer and more secure, as prescriptions can’t be lost and clinicians can check their status online.”

Jo Churchill is the UK government’s parliamentary under secretary of state for prevention, public health and primary care: “This will free up vital time for [doctors] and allow pharmacists to spend more time with their patients, and save millions of pounds a year.”

She added: “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.”

Last week, the DHSC announced it had awarded contracts for an express freight service deal with UPS, DFDS and Biocair to provide uninterrupted access to medicines and medical products in case of a no-deal Brexit.

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