When was the last time you held an FP10 prescription in hand?
A visit to my GP recently, which required a prescription, led me to ask myself: when was the last time I held a paper FP10 green prescription in my hand? As someone with a long-term condition requiring repeat medication, I am very used to logging into my Patient Access app and ordering my prescriptions remotely, with the ability to go to my nominated pharmacy the next day and pick up my medications. The prescription is sent to my pharmacy and processed electronically. Until recently, on a visit to the practice, my GP would print my prescription and I would happily head to the pharmacy and wait the 10–15 minutes for dispensing. Now it all happens at the press of a few keys and no paper prescription is issued.
Being the inquisitive sort that I am, I had to have a look at what the press and publications I trust say about this and in fact, in an article in the Health Service Journal (Lucchi, 2023) on 18 January 2023, this very concept was discussed. It seems that ‘pioneering NHS trusts are digitising paper prescribing at pace’ (Lucchi, 2023). One of the drivers for this is patient safety and the attempt to reduce the number of medication errors. An article published in the British Medical Journal (Elliott et al, 2021) estimated that 237 million errors occur every year and cost around £98 million. It seems that many hospitals and trusts and GPs are committed to paperless prescribing and being integrated into electronic patient records where possible. Trusts already doing this state that planning and preparation for the switch-over is crucial, with end-user training and onsite support for staff. Other trusts piloting the approach give insights into how they went from a two-week trial to full rollout and found that faster rollout was ultimately better. When staff were engaged in the process, it was clear that patient safety and convenience were the primary important factors. Not having to ‘chase paper charts’ and being able to access medications charts anytime and anywhere were great advantages. The journey that Barnsley NHS trust took provided some valuable lessons. These included the need for formularies, appropriate training, early engagement with pharmacy and working with trusted suppliers. So much information was gathered that the trust published their process as a case study, and for those interested, it can be found on the System C (2023) website.
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