Electronic repeat dispensing (eRD) is an important part of the EPS. For patients who regularly take the same medicine, it means you won’t have to visit your GP practice every time you need a repeat prescription - giving you peace of mind in the process.

According to the NHS, two-thirds of prescriptions issued in primary care are repeat prescriptions, accounting for nearly 80% of NHS medicine costs for primary care. 

410 million repeat prescriptions are generated every year. That’s equivalent to an average of more than 375 per GP per week.

It is estimated that up to 80% (330 million items) of all repeat prescriptions could eventually be replaced with eRD. All in all, it’s thought that this could save 2.7 million hours of GP and practice time.

To be eligible for the eRD, you’ll first need to give your consent for repeat dispensing. This can be verbal or written.

How it works

Once you have been identified as suitable for eRD, the process works in the following steps:

  1. The prescriber will review and synchronise all of your current medication.
  2. The prescriber creates a regime of prescriptions and then digitally signs it using their smartcard pin.
  3. All issues within the regime are immediately sent to the Spine.
  4. All prescriptions are linked by the same barcode, but they are all separate issues. The duration set between each issue (e.g. 28 days) is set in the clinical system.
  5. The first issue is immediately available to the nominated pharmacy and will download on next nominated request release.
  6. We need to know if anything about your health or your medication has changed since your last prescription was dispensed by us.
  7. Based on your answers, the pharmacist will decide whether to dispense the prescription or get advice from the prescriber.
  8. Once you’ve received your medication, the pharmacy sends the dispense notification (DN) to the Spine.
  9. Sending the DN for issue 1 activates issue 2 to become “awaiting release ready”.
  10. The next issue will then download automatically to the pharmacy, providing that the DN has been sent between the time of prescribing and 7 days before the next issue is due.
  11. You return to the pharmacy and are asked four mandatory questions again in order to collect issue 2.
  12. This cycle repeats until your come to collect the last issue of your regime.

eRD brings benefits both for prescribers and patients. For prescribers, it simplifies the whole process, cuts down on paper volume, and reduces footfall at GP practices. For patients, eRD makes it easier to control supply and reduces the need to contact the surgery for non-urgent medication queries.

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