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The end is nigh for paper prescriptions

Regulations which prevent GP electronic prescribing in some circumstances will be revised

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Paper prescriptions will as good as disappear under a shakeup to allow more electronic authorising of medicines, the health and social care secretary has announced.

Regulations that prevent GPs sending prescriptions to pharmacies digitally in some circumstances will be dropped with the aim of saving the NHS £300m by 2021. The changes will also benefit patients, the Department for Health and Social Care says: it will mean they have to spend less time waiting in pharmacies and GP practices, repeat prescriptions will be able to be collected from the pharmacy instead of having to visit the GP first, and they will not have to worry about losing paper prescriptions.

The availability and use of electronic prescribing has increased dramatically over the last decade. In June 2010 fewer than 1% GP surgeries were able to prescribe electronically, and by June 2018 it had reached 63%.

While more than 6,000 GPs are now able to upload prescriptions electronically, which can be downloaded by a pharmacist, thousands of paper prescriptions are still issued each year due to current regulations limiting the circumstances in which electronic prescriptions can be issued. The Department for Health and Social Care said changes will be made to these regulations later this year, to allow electronic prescribing for nearly all prescriptions.

Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “We need to harness technology across the NHS to improve care, save time for patients and make the lives of hardworking staff easier. In an NHS where thousands of GP surgeries already enjoy the benefits of electronic prescriptions, it can’t be right that there are occasions when archaic paper prescriptions still have to be used.

“As part of our long-term plan, I want the NHS to become the most advanced healthcare system in the world. Electronic prescribing both saves GPs’ time and helps to give patients a better, more seamless experience and ensures every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent effectively.”

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