Pharmacy Voice has called on the Department of Health to “exercise caution” in the roll out of Release 2 of the Electronic Prescription Service in England.
The DH announced last week that it is restarting the process for primary care trusts to be able to deploy the the service.
It also recently released an interim evaluation report of the programme, which concludes that the main beneficiaries of EPS R2 are likely to be “[the] NHS and DH as a whole, rather than local practitioners, or patients."
Pharmacy Voice IT group chairman, Martin Strange, said experience in the early adoption areas has demonstrated that substantial issues are yet to be resolved before a general roll out of the service should go ahead.
“Electronic prescriptions are undoubtedly the future, yet we must proceed with appropriate caution,” he said. “At the very least, robust criteria should be stipulated for approval of any new PCTs.”
Strange said the local pharmaceutical committeeshould be able to confirm that smartcard processes are fit for purpose and working well in practice, and that processes for monitoring nominations are satisfactory.
“It also makes sense that roll-out should not be approved in PCT areas where only a small proportion of GPs are ready to go. Meanwhile, more work is required at national level to assure business continuity,” he added.
“There remains the possibility with this project that pharmacies will be made to look deficient on those occasions where there is a glitch that affects prompt supply, even though the pharmacy is not at fault. The patient would be left drumming his fingers on our counters – of course he’ll blame the pharmacy.”
The members of Pharmacy Voice are the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, the Company Chemists’ Association, and the National Pharmacy Association.
Strange said the group is supportive of the electronic prescription serviceand wants to have modernised pharmacy IT, capable of delivering benefits like access to electronic records and real-time, transparent and accurate prescription reimbursement.
“But EPS needs to proceed in a manner that recognises the current practical limitations on the ground,” Strange argued.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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