Electronic prescribing will be implemented across Wales within the next three to five years, the Welsh Government has pledged.

In an announcement on Monday (20 September) the Welsh Government said it believed this shift to digital will improve the way patients, clinicians and pharmacists access and manage medicines across the health system.

This will include ‘patients’ access to medicines, the prescribing of medication by clinicians, the assurance and dispensing of prescriptions by pharmacists, and the auditing and pricing of medicines by monitoring authorities’, Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services explained.

The decision to introduce electronic prescribing has come since Welsh Government undertook an independent review into ePrescribing in Wales.

In April, Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) published its manifesto, in which it called on the next Government to develop a system for electronic prescriptions.

It said: ‘The archaic system of still having green pieces of paper moving between GP practices and pharmacies, often via patients, must end. The [Covid] crisis has highlighted the inefficiencies of paper-based prescribing systems,’ CPW said.

In England, 86% of prescriptions were processed digitally during April of last year (2020). This was an increase of more than 10% since February and almost 20% year-on-year. 

During the height of the pandemic, pharmacists in Wales raised safety concerns in an article written by The Pharmacist over the need to handle paper prescriptions daily – fearing that direct contact with prescriptions could increase their risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus.

This followed published research suggesting that Covid-19 can survive on paper.

CPW told The Pharmacist today (23 September) that the body ‘[Welcomed] the statement from Welsh Government in relation to the introduction of e-prescribing in Wales’ and said that it ‘[looked] forward to working with Welsh Government in the near future.’