Almost one billion prescriptions were issued via the electronic prescription service (EPS) in England throughout 2021-22, making up 95% of the total number of prescriptions issued.

The 2021-22 figure of 995,975,658 electronic prescriptions was nearly double that from 2016-17, when 532 million – just under half (48%) the total number of prescriptions – were issued on paper.

Rahul Singal, chief pharmacy and medicines information officer at NHS England, said that EPS had ‘revolutionised practice in general practice and community pharmacy’.

‘We’d be pushed to think of another national system that’s had more success,’ he added.

He said that NHS England would be introducing EPS into more health and care settings, including hospital outpatient departments.

It has already been trialled by Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in 2022, which is the first secondary care provider in England to implement EPS.

Dr Adeem Rabani, a GP at Ling House Medical Centre in Keighley, West Yorkshire, where the first electronic prescription was sent 18 years ago, said that EPS had been a ‘game-changer’ for prescribers.

‘Gone are the days of spending our lunch breaks signing reams of repeat prescriptions by hand,’ he said.

‘In terms of patient safety, if we change or cancel a prescription we can amend it in the system instead of phoning the pharmacy and making sure the paper slip is destroyed.

‘And it’s been useful for my out-of-hours practice as well. I can look in the system to see the opening hours and addresses of pharmacies to help decide which is the most convenient one for my patient to send their prescription to.’