EPS use in urgent and other care settings

Published on: 22nd November 2017 | Updated on: 28th March 2022

EPS was originally rolled out to GP practices. However, EPS continues to be expanded to urgent and other care settings.

Urgent care

Following a successful pilot, NHS Digital rolled out the EPS to urgent care providers using the Advanced Adastra prescribing system from 2018. Integrated urgent care providers include: NHS 111, GP out of hours, Clinical Assessment Services (CAS), Walk-in Centres, Minor Injuries Units and Urgent Care Centres.

EPS is available within the following relevant prescribing systems:

  • Advanced Adastra prescribing system
  • IC24
  • EMIS Web
  • TPP systems

Prescribers with EPS can use EPS to prescribe medicines in the same way that GP practices do.

How will this work?

Prescribers will identify a pharmacy that is open and accessible for the patient using similar processes to those used for paper FP10s.

EPS alone is unable to guarantee the pharmacy:

  • will be made aware of the urgency of the prescription;
  • has medication in stock; and
  • has the ability to dispense the prescription.

Due to the nature of prescriptions issued in urgent care, prescribers have been advised to consider whether it is necessary to contact dispensers to notify them they are issuing an EPS prescription to advise it needs to be dispensed promptly.

The EPS system will use a type of ‘one-off nomination’ to send the prescription to the pharmacy that the patient has selected. This will not affect existing nominations for the patient’s ‘regular’ prescriptions.

The prescriptions will be downloaded by the contractor’s PMR system in the normal way. Pharmacies that are open out of hours and that regularly receive paper prescriptions written by prescribers from urgent care providers may want to consider reviewing how frequently they download prescriptions from the central NHS Spine, so that any prescriptions sent by urgent care services are downloaded promptly. The prescription message will contain the contact details of the prescribing site in case there are any queries for the prescriber. The existing EPS dispense/claim message sending processes are unaffected.

You can use the prescription ID number to locate and download prescriptions manually if you would like to delay a full download of all EPS prescriptions in order to help you to manage your EPS prescription workload.

It is possible that a patient may present at a pharmacy different to the one originally selected by them and the urgent care prescriber. In this case, the pharmacist at the pharmacy where the patient has presented, should obtain the patient’s NHS number through a Personal Demographic Service search and use this with the Prescription ID (which may be obtained from the patient or from EPS Tracker) to manually download the prescription from the Spine, or contact the pharmacy originally selected by the urgent care prescriber. Patients may be given their prescription ID either verbally or via text message.

What happens if there is a problem using EPS?

In the event of either a prescribing, dispensing or national system failure and the patient is not present to receive an FP10, the urgent care provider could send an FP10 prescription via NHSmail scanned attachment (ideally following up with a phone call) to the patient’s chosen pharmacy. This will initiate the emergency supply process, with the FP10 subsequently being posted to the pharmacy.

National COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Service electronic prescriptions

From 1st September 2020, the COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS), hosted by the South Central Ambulance Service, added the functionality for GPs within the service to prescribe, using EPS. This is intended to improve the patient journey and allow the CCAS GPs to complete an episode of care. The scope of prescribing will be for acute prescriptions only and may include controlled drug medicines where clinically appropriate.

EPS prescriptions coming from the CCAS are not restricted to patients in the South East Region as the service manages patient enquiries from across England. Pharmacy teams will be able to use the contact details on the EPS token to telephone the service to contact the prescriber in the event of a query.

EPS is not yet within Dentistry

EPS has not yet rolled out to dentistry: The overall volume of forms prescribed by dentists is low, and EPS has not yet been tested within dentistry. If dentistry EPS is to be rolled out in the future, there will be some challenges to overcome – regulatory and technical.

Ongoing and future rollout plans

As of August 2021, NHS Digital is working with EMIS and TPP so that EPS is an option for prescribers to use in extended access hubs, community, out of hours and urgent care settings.

Updates will be published by Community Pharmacy England and NHS Digital.

Escalations about prescriptions from new care settings

If there is a technical issue with an EPS prescription from a pilot or other setting use EPS escalation route factsheet to escalate the issue appropriately and ensure a proper resolution.



Ask a question about pharmacy IT: it@cpe.org.uk

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