By Kazeem Olalekan MRPharmS
As the long awaited release 2 of the Electronic Prescription Service rolls out of different GPs (almost certainly in April in Hampshire), we are running a series tagged EPS2 where we will highlight issues and gather your views. So join me in this EPS2 series to inform stakeholders – you & me, alert relevant bodies and ultimately lead to improvement of the way the system works.
For this first post in the series, let me fire a poll at you:
Just a recap: This is no email!
The issue here is that when the GP sends an electronic prescription to a pharmacy, it is not a linear journey. What GP practice is actually doing is sending it into the NHS infrastructure spine; then once all necessary verification are done, the pharmacy can download the prescription into their pharmacy system. Clearly this is no email in that you shouldn’t really expect the prescription instantaneously. The bottlenecks present are determined by the speed of GP connection to the spine (internet & other traffic across the networks); the traffic on the spine; and the connection between the pharmacy and the spine (internet and other traffic) and frequency of download from spine by the pharmacy system. I have heard that in some cases the prescription reach the pharmacy almost instantaneously (within the hour of it being sent). I have also learnt that in some cases, it is taking an average of 6 hours. My experience recently is that a prescription that left the surgery at about 3pm was still not in the pharmacy at close of business at 6:30pm. Resulting in multiple disappointing visits by patient.
I think this calls for the management of expectation at point of issue of prescription. This is no email and we need to let the patient know that when a prescription is sent to the pharmacy, it doesn’t necessarily appear instantaneously at the pharmacy. If the prescription is acute, a prescription token printed at the GP practice maybe the way to go.
I wonder what your experiences are?