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Electronic Repeat Dispensing Service FAQs

What is the NHS Electronic Repeat Dispensing Service (eRD)?

Electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) was introduced in July 2009 as a non-compulsory method of dispensing repeat prescriptions electronically. From April 2019, as stated in the GP contract, eRD became a contractual obligation for all patients where it is clinically appropriate and the patient consents.

eRD allows the prescriber to authorise and issue a batch of prescriptions for up to 12 months with just one digital signature. Once the service is set up, the patient’s nominated pharmacy receives the issues at intervals specified by the prescriber.

Who is suitable for eRD?

Whilst eRD will bring benefits to the patient, the practice and the pharmacy, it is important to understand that not all patients will be suitable or eligible. Those deemed to be most suitable for eRD include:

Those on a stable list of medicines with:

  • No significant changes in the last 6 months.
  • No changes anticipated for the duration of the batch of prescriptions (usually 6 or 12 months).
  • Stable dosage regimens.

Those with stable medical conditions. E.g.

  • No recent unplanned hospital admissions (in the previous 6 months).
  • No new conditions diagnosed in the past 6 months.

Those who are up to date with their medication monitoring

  • Medication review completed within the last 6 months prior to first eRD prescription. (If not, could be considered for a telephone review).

Those with up to date disease monitoring. E.g.

  • Attendance at any required clinics.
  • Appropriate blood tests performed within an appropriate timeframe and recorded in the patient notes.

Exclusion criteria – The following medicines are NOT suitable or eligible for eRD

  • Controlled drugs (including temazepam, tramadol, gabapentin and pregabalin).
  • Benzodiazepines.
  • Hypnotics.
  • Drugs which require close and careful monitoring e.g. methotrexate.
  • Unlicensed medicines.

Practices and pharmacies should be aware of these suitability criteria and ensure that eligibility can be checked at the GP practice as part of the authorisation process.

How can I choose to go on to eRD?

It's really easy to sign up for eRD - just ask your GP practice to set it up for you.

What are the benefits of eRD to me?

Benefits for patients include:

  • Regular medicines can be prescribed for up to a year
  • No need to visit or call the GP every time you need to order a repeat prescription – you can go directly to the pharmacy
  • You can order or cancel your repeat prescriptions online (if your GP offers this service)
  • No need to contact the surgery to reorder at regular intervals unless their condition changes
  • Retain regular contact with their dispenser, who is responsible for checking that their circumstances haven't changed since the previous issue of the prescription was collected
  • If clinically appropriate can request the next issue early or obtain more than one prescription, for example when going on holiday
  • save paper – you won’t need a paper prescription to collect your medicine from the pharmacy

What are the benefits of eRD to my GP surgery?

eRD simplifies the repeat prescribing process and offers a range of benefits, including: 

  • prescribers can authorise a batch of repeat prescriptions for up to 12 months with just one digital signature
  • eRD simplifies the repeat dispensing process, particularly in terms of volume of paper used
  • dispensers are mandated to ask patients if they require all items on their prescription before each issue, to avoid medicines wastage
  • eRD puts the prescriber in control rather than allowing the patient or dispenser to continue re-ordering unnecessary items - which leads to oversupply and stockpiling
  • reduced footfall at the GP practice and fewer telephone calls as patients don't need to collect or order repeat prescriptions for the duration of their eRD batch
  • Encouragement of multidisciplinary working around repeat medication

What are the benefits of eRD to my pharmacy?

  • Automated downloads, making prescription processing more efficient.
  • Less time spent on administration and collecting prescriptions, which means more time for helping patients
  • Reduced waiting times, improving patient satisfaction
  • Improved stock control, providing greater accuracy and reduces the number of prescription queries
  • A reduction in the amount of sorting and paper submissions that need to be send to us at the NHSBSA
  • A prescription collection service is no longer needed between the pharmacy and GP practice
  • A simplified repeat dispensing process
  • eRD encourages multidisciplinary working around repeat medication and long term condition management

What are the benefits of eRD to the NHS?

  • eRD saves time and money by reducing the amount of paper processing required by GPs, pharmacists and the NHS Business Services Authority.
  • Electronic prescriptions will save the NHS £300m by 2021.
  • eRD improves the data captured from prescriptions, to enable better reporting and improved medicines optimization
  • eRD is reliable, secure and confidential

 More information about eRD can be found below:

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