What items can be covered by EPS?

What items can be covered by EPS?

The legal basis for electronic prescriptions

An electronic message becomes a legal electronic prescription where:

  • the prescription has been created in electronic form;
  • is signed with an electronic signature;
  • must be sent via the NHS Electronic Prescription Service and no other messaging system*; and
  • is then transferred to the dispensing site as an electronic communication

REF: The NHS (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013

Controlled Drugs

See EPS CDs.

Nomination requirements

The NHS (General Medical Service Contracts) Regulations 2004 put in place controls around which patients can be issued with electronic prescriptions. Initially, it will only be possible to issue an electronic NHS prescription where the patient has nominated their dispensing site. It is possible that at a later stage in the deployment of EPS Release 2, there will be further regulatory change to enable electronic prescriptions to be issued where the patient does not want to nominate a pharmacy.


Scope of the service

Prescribers are able to issue via EPS:

  • acute prescriptions,
  • repeat prescriptions (repeat prescribing);
  • and repeatable prescriptions (repeat dispensing)

Note: It will not be possible for a prescriber to use the service to request a bulk prescription (Drug Tariff Part VIII note 9) for a school or institution and private prescriptions are out of scope.

Each electronic NHS prescription may contain up to 4 items.

Technical scope

There will be occasions where a prescriber cannot issue the prescription they wish via EPS for technical reasons. For example, this could occur if the product is not listed on the NHS medicinal item list (Dictionary of Medicines & Devices, dm+d) or if the prescribing system is not able to issue a prescription for the item because the supplier has not ‘mapped’ the appropriate codes. This is likely to affect less commonly prescribed items including products to be specially manufactured or extemporaneously dispensed products.


Frequently asked questions

Q. Can a nurse prescriber working in a GP practice, issue prescriptions via the EPS Service?

A. Yes, all types of nurse prescriber (community practitioner nurse prescriber, independent nurse prescriber and supplementary nurse prescriber) linked to GP Practices can issue prescriptions via the Electronic Prescription Service as long as they have the correct roles and GP Practice locations registered on their smartcard. When an electronic prescription is received, the prescriber type will be indicated on screen.

Q. The prescriber has signed the token; does this make it a legal NHS prescription?

A. No. If the prescriber has signed the prescription token, it cannot be treated as a legal NHS prescription as the form is not approved for this use by the NHS. A contractor would be reimbursed for dispensing against the electronic prescription, not the token. To minimise the risk of a prescriber signing the token, the signature box on the token will be over-written by the prescribing system to state that the token should not be used as a prescription.

Q. How will a patient order their repeat prescriptions in future?

A. Arrangements for ordering repeat prescriptions are agreed locally, for example some practices currently accept repeat prescription requests by phone, email, fax or through online ordering systems, others require patients to submit a paper request. This will not change.

Where prescribers require patients to submit a written request for repeat medication, patients will be able to request a printed list of their repeat medication from a Release 2 enabled pharmacy. This information will be provided to pharmacies in the electronic prescription message received from the prescriber. There is some flexibility over how system suppliers will configure systems to generate this information, for example automatically for nominated prescriptions or on demand. The impact of this task on workload within pharmacies will be monitored closely during the initial implementation of Release 2 of the Service. To minimise the number of occasions that a patient has to order repeat prescriptions,  the NHS repeat dispensing arrangements are encourages.

The Department of Health information strategy – The power of information- set the target that by 2015, all general practices will be expected to make electronic ordering of repeat prescriptions available to patients.

Related resources

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