PATIENTS in Rhyl are the first in Wales to benefit from a new electronic prescription service (EPS).

This allows GPs to send prescriptions securely online to the patient’s choice of community pharmacy, without the need for a paper form.

The new service, officially launched on November 17, makes the prescribing and dispensing of medicines for patients and healthcare professionals easier, safer and more efficient.

The live test sites are at Rhyl’s Lakeside Medical Centre and Wellington Road Pharmacy.

For the first time, Welsh GPs no longer need to physically print and then sign a green paper prescription form to hand to the patient or to be collected by the pharmacy from the surgery.

Instead, they sign electronically and immediately send the prescription directly from the computer in the surgery to the IT system used in the patient’s pharmacy.

The service brings benefits to patients, GP surgeries, pharmacies and the environment, saving up to 40 million paper forms from being printed each year.

Prescriptions can be tracked from the surgery to the pharmacy and patients will no longer need to visit the surgery to pick up a repeat prescription form as it will be sent directly to their chosen pharmacy.

It will also simplify the reimbursement process for community pharmacies.

The new service is currently in a live testing phase, ahead of a phased rollout across Wales as quickly and safely as possible from January.

Visiting the live test sites in Rhyl, health and social services minister Eluned Morgan said: “We are at the start of an exciting digital transformation that will completely change the way prescriptions are managed in primary care, streamlining a process that has not changed in decades.

“Electronic prescriptions will make a huge difference to the NHS and patients and this is a major milestone in our journey towards digitising every prescription in every healthcare setting across Wales.

“I would like to thank the staff at both the GP practice and pharmacy for their support as the first adopters of the EPS technology and I hope we can explore how other primary care settings can use digital prescribing.”

Shafraz Mohideen, Lakeside Medical Centre operations manager, said: “We can already see that this is a game-changer.

“Our GPs will be able to prescribe medicines faster and more securely, giving them more time for patients.

“It will also help patients as they won’t need to visit the surgery to collect repeat prescriptions.”

Charlotte Smith, lead pharmacist at Wellington Road Pharmacy, added: “This is an exciting development and one we have been waiting for.

“It will make it so much easier for our patients and our staff as we can track the prescriptions with the new system and check their status online.”

Barbara McEvoy, a patient at Lakeside Medical Centre who will be using EPS, said: “I couldn’t believe how easy it is. I told the pharmacy I wanted to use e-prescriptions and they did the rest.

“I didn’t need to use a computer or fill in an online form.  This is going to be really useful and will definitely help patients.”