Paper prescriptions to disappear with NHS digital shakeup

(Last Updated On: August 29, 2018)

Healthwatch Torbay’s Digital Project is well under way, and the latest pronouncement from on high makes it look more relevant than ever as it looks as though paper prescriptions will all but disappear.

The government has announced that regulations preventing GPs sending prescriptions to pharmacies digitally in some circumstances will be dropped – with the aim of saving the NHS £300m by 2021.

Matt Hancock, the health and social care secretary, said the move would be far more convenient for patients, and would save crucial staff time. Repeat prescriptions could be easily collected from the pharmacy and the ‘worry’ about losing paper prescriptions ended, he reckons, adding: ‘As part of our long-term plan, I want the NHS to become the most advanced healthcare system in the world. Electronic prescribing both saves GPs’ time and helps to give patients a better, more seamless experience and ensures every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent effectively.’

In a speech last month, he said: ‘Let this be clear: tech transformation is coming. Our health system is uniquely placed to become the most advanced health system in the world, one where technology addresses the user need, making care better for patients, but, just as importantly, making life easier for staff.’

Almost 7,000 GPs in England are already able to upload prescriptions electronically, a huge increase on the figure of just eight back in 2010. Over the same period, the number of pharmacies sites boasting an electronic prescriptions service has mushroomed from only 18 to more than 11,500 – leaving just 85 without it.

Healthwatch Torbay’s Digital Project, by the way, is aimed at the many people unaware of or unable to access health and social care resources on the internet, things like booking a doctor’s appointment, to ordering a prescription, or to self-referring.

We want to help people who are ‘digitally excluded’ by providing them with a route to join the online world and access all local digital health and social care resources and to that end, as some of you may have heard, we’re delivering a free local programme of online training and support.

If you want to know more, call free on 08000 520 029, email, or visit You could even just pop into the Healthwatch offices in Paignton’s Library and Information centre, open from Monday to Friday.

Bob Jope

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Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!