Chief Executive, NHS Business Services Authority
Electronic repeat prescriptions have reduced footfall in GP surgeries with increased take-up since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Electronic repeat dispensing means that patients who regularly get the same medicine don’t need to visit their GP every time they need a repeat prescription. Instead, the prescription is sent straight to their pharmacist.
Launch of electronic repeat dispensing (eRD)
GPs can issue up to 12 months’ worth of regular prescriptions, which can be stored securely on the NHS database, so they are ready at the pharmacy each time a patient needs them.
Electronic repeat prescriptions are managed by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) and it was rolled out nationally in April 2019. Within three months, nearly 700,000 patients were using the repeat dispensing process and today, over 1.2 million patients benefit from it.
Saving GPs and pharmacists’ time
Electronic repeat prescribing has helped people to avoid unnecessary face-to-face contact during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also helped manage increased pressure on the health service.
It is estimated that it has saved up to 100,000 hours of GP practice time which can be reinvested in patient care.
To save time for GP practices, eRD provides NHS numbers for patients who may be suitable for electronic repeat prescriptions, highlights which patients no longer receive medicines through it and provides reports showing GPs where their practices are with it.
Up to 80% of all repeat prescriptions could eventually be replaced with electronic repeat dispensing.
Real time exemption checking
Electronic repeat prescriptions work hand in hand with another system developed by NHSBSA with NHS Digital, Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC), to save pharmacists’ time.
RTEC allows pharmacy teams to digitally check if their patients are eligible for free NHS prescriptions due to an exemption (such as medical, maternity, age or low income). It saves pharmacies time because a patient who is found to be exempt from paying for prescriptions via RTEC, does not need to complete an exemption declaration electronically.
Michael Brodie, Chief Executive of NHSBSA says: “We are driven by wanting to support our frontline NHS colleagues. To this end, electronic repeat dispensing is proving to be really effective. We have made it much easier for patients to receive the healthcare they need and have saved a significant amount of clinicians’ time. It is estimated that up to 80% of all repeat prescriptions could eventually be replaced with electronic repeat dispensing.”