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Collaborative working key to successful launch of EPS in Wales

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The new EPS service is currently in a live testing phase, with a phased roll out across Wales expected from January 2024.

The Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio (DMTP) was able to deliver the electronic prescription service (EPS) in Wales – just 20 months after starting the project – with support from key partners in the NHS and industry.

Patients in Rhyl were the first to benefit from the new service, which allows GPs to send prescriptions electronically to the patient’s choice of community pharmacy, without the need for a paper form.

The new EPS service is currently in a live testing phase, with a phased roll out across Wales expected from January 2024.

DMTP, which is hosted by Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW) has worked closely with NHS England, who provided the core EPS platform that has been developed for use in Wales. NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership has also made a major contribution in the project, incorporating digital reimbursement to pharmacies and putting security measures in place.

Fintan Grant, NHSE’s Deputy Director of Digital Delivery for Digital Medicines, said: “NHS England is proud to work with Digital Health and Care Wales to ensure the benefits of using the Electronic Prescription Service can be realised by patients and frontline NHS colleagues across Wales.

“The first go-live is always a major milestone and follows significant effort, ambition and will from a number of organisations, teams and third party suppliers. I congratulate all involved with this first step in the rollout.”

The EPS project has involved working closely with 16 suppliers of pharmacy and GP IT systems, with each supplier required to modify their systems to be able to send and receive electronic prescriptions securely.

To support this and other innovations, DMTP teamed up with Life Sciences Hub Wales and established the Community Pharmacy System Innovation Fund, to provide grants to suppliers of community pharmacy systems.

Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO at Life Sciences Hub Wales, said: “It’s fantastic that electronic prescription services are now directly benefitting people in Wales thanks to ongoing work including the Community Pharmacy System Innovation Fund.

“Life Sciences Hub Wales has worked in partnership with DMTP – with our organisation managing the Fund and award process – helping suppliers of community pharmacy systems to develop their systems to use electronic prescription services.”

Invatech Health’s Titan pharmacy system and EMIS GP system supplier are the first to get their systems ready to go live with EPS in Wales.

Invatech Health CEO, Tariq Muhammad said: “This is a really important milestone in our journey to support the advance of health services in Wales. We are so pleased to play our part in helping bring this technology to Wales and are looking forward to making this available to the whole of Wales to benefit patients, pharmacists, and doctors alike.”

Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, Chief Medical Officer of EMIS Group, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to have been able to support the Welsh Government’s commitment to digitalise prescriptions with our technology. We’ve worked closely with the teams at Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio to implement the new electronic prescription service and we’re delighted to hear from practice staff and patients alike that the new service is already starting to save time and provide a better service for patients.

“The project also includes tech to support further development and the introduction of smartcards for Wales too, which represents a big step in the digitisation programme.”

The DMTP aims to make the prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicines, easier, safer, more efficient and effective for patients and professionals through digital.

Professor Hamish Laing, Senior Responsible Owner for the DMTP, said: “Our collaborative approach, placing people at the centre and working closely with clinicians, patients and industry suppliers ensures we are delivering a service that meets the needs of all who use it.”

Not only the EPS service will benefit patients, GP surgeries and pharmacies, but it will help protect the environment, by saving up to 40 million paper forms from being printed each year.

The EPS project is one part of a wider commitment by Welsh Government to introduce digital medicines and e-prescribing in all hospitals and primary care in Wales, through the DMTP.

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