In a bid to make the NHS ‘the safest healthcare system in the world’ by reducing errors, 16 hospitals across England have been allocated a share of nearly £16 million to introduce electronic prescriptions.

The NHS said it is on course to eliminate paper prescribing in hospitals and achieve the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to introduce digital prescribing across the nation’s health service by 2024.

This means NHS hospital staff can now quickly access potentially life-saving information on prescribed medicines and patient history in digital form which will also reduce medication errors by up to 30 per cent when compared with the old paper systems.

In a statement issued today (Nov 18), the NHS said electronic prescribing systems also save time and money by reducing unnecessary bureaucracy. “Investing in these systems will help to save money and increase productivity for the NHS overall.”

Minister for patient safety, Nadine Dorries, said: “We are determined to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world. The introduction of digital prescribing systems has helped us reduce potentially deadly medication errors and save our hard-working staff valuable time, enabling them to dedicate their full attention and care to patients.

“As we enter what is set to be a challenging winter, the best way we can continue to protect patients and staff is if we all work together and continue to follow the national restrictions to suppress the virus.”

The funding is part of a £78 million investment to achieve the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to eliminate paper prescribing in hospitals and introduce digital prescribing across the entire NHS by 2024.

Since 2018, 216 NHS trusts have received a share of this fund and the proportion of trusts with an electronic prescriptions and medicines administration (ePMA) system is expected to have risen from 19 per cent in 2018 to more than 80 per cent by March 2021.

Dr Paul Curley, deputy medical director and chief clinical information officer at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which received £1.6 million in 2018, said: “At The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust we successfully implemented eMeds, our ePMA system. eMeds has revolutionised prescribing and improved medicines safety across the trust, and a number of benefits have been realised including high staff satisfaction levels, greater visibility of prescriptions and reduced prescribing errors.

“… We believe that our ePMA project has been one of our most successful implementations and was driven by the objective of clinical improvement. It was completed only months before the Covid-19 pandemic and so was hugely beneficial for our overall response.”

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