Nearly 1 billion e-prescriptions issued over past year

NHS England data show that the number of e-prescriptions issued in England has almost doubled in the past five years.
Pharmacist scanning a barcode on a prescription slip

Prescribers in England have issued nearly 1 billion e-prescriptions over the past year, NHS England has said.

In a statement published on 8 February 2023, NHS England said that 996 million prescription items were issued electronically in 2021/2022, accounting for 95% of all prescriptions.

The number of e-prescriptions issued has almost doubled since 2016/2017, when 532 million prescriptions were sent electronically.

The statement also said that 11,400 pharmacies were now signed up to e-prescription services. According to the latest official data, there were 11,522 community pharmacies in England in 2021/2022.

The first e-prescription in England was sent on 6 February 2005, to a Co-op Pharmacy in Keighley, West Yorkshire. The full electronic prescription service (EPS) was rolled out in England in November 2019.

Scotland was the first UK country to set up a full EPS in 2009. The Welsh government has said it expects to see a “technical proof of concept” for its own national EPS by spring 2023, with the service planned to be rolled out to GP surgeries and pharmacies later in the year.

Rahul Singal, chief pharmacy and medicines information officer at NHS England, said: “When you look at the number of transactions that are made via the service and how much it’s revolutionised practice in general practice and community pharmacy, we’d be pushed to think of another national system that’s had more success.

“Our next focus is to introduce EPS into more care settings, including more health settings such as hospital outpatient departments so the benefits can be realised for even more clinicians and patients across the NHS.”

Singal added: “Over the past few years, [the] EPS has held its position and [has] done what it’s needed to do in primary care.

“Now, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in remote consultations and virtual wards, we’re seeing the need to expand it into more care settings.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, February 2023, Vol 310, No 7970;310(7970)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.174693

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