Pharmacy Voice is calling on the Department of Health to exercise caution in the roll out of electronic prescriptions in England, following last week’s announcement by DH that it is restarting the process for directing PCTs for the use of the Electronic Prescribing Service (Release 2).
Pharmacy Voice IT Group chairman, Martin Strange, said:
“Experience in the early adoption areas has demonstrated that there remain substantial issues to be resolved before a general roll out of the EPS should be contemplated. Electronic prescriptions are undoubtedly the future, yet we must proceed with appropriate caution.”
“At the very least, robust criteria should be stipulated for approval of any new PCTs. For example, the LPC should be able to confirm that Smartcard processes are fit for purpose and working well in practice, and that processes for monitoring nominations are satisfactory. It also makes sense that roll-out should not be approved in PCT areas where only a small proportion of GPs are ready to go.Meanwhile, more work is required at national level to assure business continuity.”
“There remains the possibility with this project that pharmacies will be made to look deficient on those occasions where there is a glitch that affects prompt supply, even though the pharmacy is not at fault. The patient would be left drumming his fingers on our counters – of course he’ll blame the pharmacy.”
“Pharmacy Voice wants EPS to work and indeed for thoroughly modernised pharmacy IT overall, capable of delivering benefits like access to electronic records and real-time, transparent and accurate prescription reimbursement. But EPS needs to proceed in a manner that recognises the current practical limitations on the ground.”
Only PCTs listed in the EPS Directions may direct GPs to issue prescriptions using EPS. The closing date for this tranche of applications is 1 August. An interim evaluation report on Release Two of the EPS, by UCL School of Pharmacy, the University of Nottingham and the LSE was published earlier this month. It noted progress, but highlighted that significant improvements need to be made following the experience in pilot sites.