EPS use in urgent care settings

EPS use in urgent care settings

Following a successful pilot, NHS Digital is now rolling out the EPS to urgent care providers using the Advanced Adastra prescribing system. Integrated urgent care providers include: NHS 111, GP out of hours, Clinical Assessment Services (CAS), Walk-in Centres, Minor Injuries Units and Urgent Care Centres.

Prescribers within the pilot sites will be able to use EPS to prescribe medicines in the same way as prescriptions are currently sent from GP practices to community pharmacies using EPS.

How will this work?

Prescribers will identify a pharmacy that is open and accessible for the patient using similar processes to those used for paper FP10s.

EPS alone is unable to guarantee the pharmacy:

  • will be made aware of the urgency of the prescription;
  • has medication in stock; and
  • has the ability to dispense the prescription.

Due to the nature of prescriptions issued in urgent care, prescribers have been advised to consider whether it is necessary to contact dispensers to notify them they are issuing an EPS prescription to advise it needs to be dispensed promptly.

The EPS system will use a new type of ‘one-off nomination’ to send the prescription to the pharmacy that the patient has selected. This will not affect existing nominations for the patient’s ‘regular’ prescriptions.

The prescriptions will be downloaded by the contractor’s PMR system in the normal way. Pharmacies that are open out of hours and that regularly receive paper prescriptions written by prescribers from urgent care providers may want to consider reviewing how frequently they download prescriptions from the central NHS Spine, so that any prescriptions sent by urgent care services are downloaded promptly. The prescription message will contain the contact details of the prescribing site in case there are any queries for the prescriber. The existing EPS dispense/claim message sending processes are unaffected.

You can use the prescription ID number to locate and download prescriptions manually if you would like to delay a full download of all EPS prescriptions in order to help you to manage your EPS prescription workload.

It is possible that a patient may present at a pharmacy different to the one originally selected by them and the urgent care prescriber. In this case, the pharmacist at the pharmacy where the patient has presented, should obtain the patient’s NHS number through a Personal Demographic Service search and use this with the Prescription ID (which may be obtained from the patient or from EPS Tracker) to manually download the prescription from the Spine, or contact the pharmacy originally selected by the urgent care prescriber. Patients may be given their prescription ID either verbally or via text message.

What happens if there is a problem using EPS?

In the event of either a prescribing, dispensing or national system failure and the patient is not present to receive an FP10, the urgent care provider could send an FP10 prescription via fax to the patient’s chosen pharmacy. This will initiate the emergency supply process, with the FP10 subsequently being posted to the pharmacy.

Future rollout plans

Following a successful pilot with the Adastra prescribing system, further national deployment of EPS has been authorised for prescribers that use this Adastra system, so more urgent and emergency care prescribers will be able to prescribe via EPS. Other urgent care system suppliers are already developing EPS prescribing functionality and are also expected to pilot. Updates will be published by PSNC and NHS Digital.

Recommended actions for pharmacy contractors

Patients can choose to have their prescriptions dispensed at any community pharmacy. Contractors and their teams should be aware that they could receive an electronic prescription from an urgent care prescriber involved in the pilot and that they can dispense it in the same way as any other EPS prescription. It is recommended that contractors ensure all relevant pharmacy team members, including locums, are made aware of the above information.

If you receive an EPS prescription from an urgent care setting and have any questions or comments, please contact info@psnc.org.uk or PSNC’s Community Pharmacy IT Lead, Daniel Ah-Thion.


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