A pilot of prescribing schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs using the electronic prescription service (EPS) is beginning soon, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.
Initially, up to 15 GP practices in two areas of England — London and the North West — will take part before the change is rolled out nationally.
“We welcome this development as it takes the sector one step closer to a fully streamlined EPS process, which will avoid the current challenge of some patients requiring both EPS and paper prescriptions,” said Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the PSNC.
Regulations were amended in 2015 to allow schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs to be prescribed and dispensed via EPS but this has not yet been implemented due to technical reasons. The pilot is intended to demonstrate that IT systems and pharmacy processes are capable.
The PSNC said that pharmacies local to practices taking part in the pilot will be informed nearer the time once NHS Digital has confirmed the start date but that all community pharmacy teams should be aware it is taking place, as patients can choose where to have their prescription dispensed.
The PSNC said that standard operating procedures can be changed to reflect that schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs could be prescribed via the EPS or by FP10 paper. Pharmacies may also need to change their procedures if they do not allow for controlled drugs and non-controlled drugs to be dealt with on the same prescription.