About the Electronic Prescription Service

Did you know that around 1.5 million paper prescriptions are issued every working day in England and that about 7 out of 10 prescriptions are repeat prescriptions?

To handle this number more efficiently, the NHS have introduced the Electronic Prescription Service in England.

This new service lets your GP practice send your prescription electronically to the place you choose to get your medication or appliance from - without the need for paper in some cases.  This means there is less need for people with repeat prescriptions to call at their GP practice just to collect a prescription form.

What is changing?

The way that your prescription is passed between your GP practice and the place you get your medication or appliance is changing.  Over the past year or so, you may have noticed that your prescription form has had a barcode printed on it.  This means that it was produced using the first stage of the new Electronic Prescription Service.

Now we are moving to the next stage of the service where there is less need for you to receive a paper prescription - unless you want one.

How does the Electronic Prescription Service work?

At first if you want your GP to send your prescription electronically, you must choose, or 'nominate' a place to receive your electronic prescriptions.  This could be a pharmacy, dispensing appliance contractor or your GP practice if you are entitled to collect medication from there. 

Nomination works in a similar way to a prescription collection service where the pharmacy collects your prescription for you - instead of you having to collect it from your GP practice.  The main difference with nomination is that your prescription will be sent electronically and you don't have to nominate a place that is close to your GP practice.  For example, you could choose to nominate a place that is convenient to where you live, work or shop.

How do I nominate?

You can either ask a member of staff at your GP practice to record your nomination for you or you can ask a member of staff at any pharmacy that offers the service to record your nomination.

What happens once I have nominated?

Once your nomination is recorded, your GP will send all your future prescriptions electronically to the place you have nominated.

You should try to ensure you go to this place to collect your medication or appliance - unless you have made alternative arrangements with your GP practice.  If you go elsewhere without making these arrangements, you may experience delays in getting your medication or appliance.

Should I nominate?

Nomination is more suitable for some patients than others.  This depends on your circumstances.  Here are some points to think about when deciding whether you should nominate.

Nominating would suit me

Nominating would be less suitable for me

I receive regular

repeat prescriptions.


I only need one-off

prescriptions from time to time.


I tend to collect my prescription

from the same place most of the time.


I tend to collect my prescription

from different places.


I use a prescription collection

service now.

I travel or work away

from home often.

Using nomination

For repeat prescriptions - You should continue to re-order your repeat prescriptions from your GP in the same way as normal.  However, instead of having to make arrangements to collect the prescription from the GP practice, the prescription will be sent electronically to the place you have nominated - meaning you don't have to collect the prescription from your GP practice first.  You can then collect/receive your medication or appliance as normal.

For 'one off' prescriptions - You can use nomination for prescriptions that you only need to collect once, but as most are issued following a face-to-face consultation, it probably won't save you a trip to the GP practice.

Changing your nomination

Nomination is very flexiable and can be changed or cancelled at any time.  You can do this by either:

  • asking a member of staff at any pharmacy or dispensing appliance contractor that offers the service;
  • asking a member of staff at your GP practice.

If you have a repeat prescription, your GP or pharmacist can tell you the best time to change your nomination.  This will ensure that your next prescription is sent to the right place.

It is important to remeber that you do not have to use nomination on every occasion.  If you do not wish to use nomination for a particular prescription, you should let your GP practice know before the prescription is issued.

What happens if I choose not to nominate?

Nothing - you will continue to get paper prescriptions as you do now.

In the future, your prescription can be sent electronically even if you decide not to nominate.  However you will still be required to make arrangements to collect a paper copy of your electronic prescription.  The place providing your medication or appliance will need this paper copy in order to process your prescription.

Is the Electronic Prescription Service secure and confidential?

The Electronic Prescription Service is reliable, secure and confidential.  Only authorised members of staff working in your GP practice, pharmacy and/or dispensing appliance contractor will be able to view your electronic prescription.

If you would like to know more about the Electronic Prescription Service, you can ask a member of staff at your GP practice or at any pharmacy or dispensing appliance contractor, or you can access the Connecting for Health website at www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk/eps


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