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Electronic prescriptions

Most prescriptions are now signed, sent and processed electronically.

You have 2 choices for how this works.

  • You can choose a pharmacy or dispenser to dispense all your prescriptions. When you get a prescription, it will be sent electronically to the dispenser you have chosen. You can collect your medicines or appliances without having to hand in a paper prescription.

  • You can decide each time you are issued a prescription where you would like it to be dispensed. When you are issued a prescription, you will be given a paper copy that you can take to any pharmacy or other dispenser in England. The paper copy will contain a unique barcode that will be scanned to download your prescription from the secure NHS database.

Paper prescriptions will continue to be available in special circumstances, but almost all prescriptions will be processed electronically.

Choosing a pharmacy or other dispenser

If you get regular prescriptions or are already using a prescription collection service (where a pharmacy collects prescriptions from your GP practice for you) then choosing a pharmacy to dispense all your prescriptions may save you time by avoiding unnecessary trips to your GP.

You will still order your repeat prescriptions in the same way as you do now, but your prescriptions will be sent electronically to the pharmacy or dispenser of your choice.

You will not have to collect a paper repeat prescription from your GP practice.

Cancelling or changing your choice of pharmacist or dispenser

You can change or cancel your choice of dispenser at any time. Simply speak to your GP or pharmacist before you order your next prescription.

You should allow time for the update to take place to avoid your next prescription being sent to the wrong place.

What can I do if I'm unhappy with the process?

You should be provided with information about electronic prescriptions and give your consent before your choice of dispenser is recorded.

If you're unhappy with your experience, you can complain to the dispenser, your GP practice or your local clinical commissioning group (CCG).

Find out more about the NHS complaints procedure

Who can see my prescription?

Electronic prescriptions are reliable, secure and confidential.

Your electronic prescription will be seen by the same people in GP practices, pharmacies and NHS prescription payment and fraud agencies that used to see your paper prescription.

They'll also be able to see whether you have chosen more than 1 dispenser and can check where your prescriptions will be sent to.

If you're on repeat prescriptions, dispensers will also see all of the items on your re-order slip.

Page last reviewed: 26 April 2019
Next review due: 26 April 2022