Full electronic prescribing within five years, Welsh government pledges

The Welsh government aims to replace paper prescriptions and 'wet' signatures in primary care with electronic prescriptions and signatures in the next three to five years.
Pharmacist using a computer

Electronic prescribing will be implemented across all healthcare settings in Wales within the next three to five years, the Welsh government has announced as part of plans to introduce e-prescribing “throughout the lifecycle of a prescription”.

In a statement published on 21 September 2021, Eluned Morgan, Welsh minister for health and social services, said that paper prescriptions and ‘wet’ signatures will be replaced by electronic prescriptions and electronic signatures in primary care. In hospitals, an electronic platform for prescriptions will be introduced, alongside electronic drug charts.

Patients will be able to digitally order repeat prescriptions through an NHS Wales app, which Moran said will be “digitally inclusive” and complement, rather than replace, existing services.

The programme also includes development of a central medicines data repository, which will store details of e-prescriptions nationally across primary and secondary care. This will mean that staff across Wales would have “immediate access to the patient’s medication records” and will “ensure they do not prescribe a medication that is incompatible with one they are already taking, or that could cause an adverse reaction”, Morgan said.

The announcement follows a Welsh government independent review of e-prescribing in Wales, which was commissioned in 2020 and concluded in April 2021.

Cheryl Way, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) Welsh Pharmacy Board, said the RPS was “delighted” with the announcement, describing it as an “important development”, which will “drive up patient safety and put patients in greater control of their medication regimen”.

Way added that delivering the programme will be a “significant undertaking, requiring complex technical solutions that join up primary, community and secondary care”, and that it would “take time to deliver”.

“We are keen to understand more about how the delivery plans can be taken forward at pace and where the RPS can support our members and the implementation of digital prescribing solutions.”

READ MORE: ‘A blessing and a curse’: the struggle to introduce e-prescribing

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2021, Vol 307, No 7953;307(7953)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.106540