The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) is set to reach ‘a small number’ of pharmacies and general practices in Wales next summer before being rolled out more widely.

In a written statement updating on the progress of the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio (DMTP), formerly referred to as the ePrescribing programme, minister for health and social services Eluned Morgan said that officials were in discussion with NHS Digital in England about adoption of the EPS and how it can be deployed across Wales.

As well as EPS implementation in primary care, as part of the DMTP, hospital prescribing and medication administration activities in secondary care will be digitised, including the electronic transfer of prescription information on discharge to primary care and from outpatients to community pharmacies.

Ms Morgan said a procurement framework for electronic prescribing and medicines administration (ePMA) was being created which would work with other national systems, ‘ensuring data can be accessed across health board boundaries’.

She said that health boards and trusts were working ‘at pace’ to establish pre-implementation teams to assess their requirements and plan for ePMA adoption, with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board already recruiting for its pre-implementation team. However, she added that different boards and trusts were at differing levels of readiness, meaning not all boards will start ePMA adoption at the same time.

Under the DMTP, patients will have the ability, via the NHS Wales App, to see what medications they are prescribed, to request further supplies and nominate a preferred pharmacy to collect them from.

The Digital Services for Patients and the Public Programme has commissioned research to look at what primary care capabilities should be included in the app, which DMTP will use, as well as its own work, to determine how people want to use the app to manage their medicines.

Work on a National Medicines Repository has started, with the aim to create a central location where all medicine information will be held to enable a more seamless transfer of information between primary and secondary care settings, as well as between health boards, in real-time.

Ms Morgan said a platform which could underpin it has been procured and that an assessment of potential technologies would take place this summer before the team progresses with building the final version.

The Welsh Government re-affirmed its pledge that the rollout of the DMTP would be implemented in the next three to five years with some parts of the programme, such as primary care EPS and NHS Wales App functions, to be available sooner.

In England, 86% of prescriptions were processed digitally during April 2020.