The first two funding grants have been awarded to digital community pharmacy system suppliers to allow them to develop an electronic prescription service (EPS) in Wales.
The Community Pharmacy System Innovation Fund has provided the money to suppliers PharmacyX and TITAN PMR, which will allow them to alter their existing systems to enable electronic prescribing.
The funding follows a pledge made in January 2023 by Eluned Morgan, the Welsh health and social services minister, that the first electronic prescriptions would be sent from GPs to pharmacies in the same year.
At the time, she said: “It is expected the first prescriptions will be sent electronically from GP practices to dispensing pharmacies in summer or early autumn 2023.”
In September 2021, the Welsh government said it aimed to deliver full electronic prescribing across the NHS within three to five years.
In a statement, published on 7 June 2023, Digital Health and Care Wales said the innovation fund would remain open for bids until October 2024, unless all funding was distributed before that date.
The funding was made available as part of a three-tier process, with the first tier requiring firms to “develop and implement the changes necessary to community pharmacy systems to enable EPS in a Wales-based pharmacy through an assured patient medication record”.
The first tier must be completed successfully before suppliers can apply for tier two and three funding.
Firms that are successful in their bids will be given a maximum of £111,562.50 for the work on each tier.
Sarah Taylor, sector intelligence lead at Life Sciences Hub Wales, an arm’s-length body of the Welsh government that is working on the scheme, said: “Digital prescribing has a wide range of benefits for patients, staff and the environment, so we’re looking forward to seeing the future outcomes of this funding opportunity.”
Hamish Laing, senior responsible owner for the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio, which is also working on the scheme, said: “It is fantastic to see this fund moving so quickly and making its first awards just a few weeks after it was launched.
“We look forward to receiving applications from more suppliers in the next funding round so that we can accelerate the developments in community pharmacies right across Wales.”