The impact of COVID-19 on electronic repeat dispensing (eRD) in general practice

Raman Sharma, Farideh Javid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Electronic repeat dispensing (eRD) has been part of the community pharmacy contact since 2005 and a requirement in the General Medical Services contract since 2019. NHS England highlights benefits of eRD as increased efficiency in general practice of 2.7 million hours annually if 80% of all repeat prescriptions are issued as eRD. Despite clear benefits to patients, community pharmacies and general practices, the uptake of eRD remains low and variable across general practices in West Yorkshire, UK. Objectives: To investigate the impact of COVID-19 on eRD in general practice and understand the key enablers to its uptake. Methods: A 19-item questionnaire was developed and piloted during cognitive interviews. A cross-sectional survey was conducted via emails to general practices in West Yorkshire, UK, between July 2020 and November 2020. Results: Sixty-seven complete responses were received (23 pharmacists, 21 practice managers, 11 general practitioners, seven pharmacy technicians, four advanced practitioners, one prescription clerk). 59% of respondents were aware of eRD uptake in their surgery (mean value 4.56% ± 0.229%). Higher uptake of eRD was demonstrated where the general practice integrated eRD into routine workflows during the repeat prescription reauthorisation process (P < 0.001) and where an eRD service lead is nominated (P = 0.04). Conclusion: Utilising eRD in the respective practices should be considered due to potential efficiency gains and the increase in average eRD utilisation observed in the study participating general practices was from 7.2% average uptake in March 2020 to 10.4% November 2020, as the response to COVID-19. The stated benefits of eRD by NHS England of 2.7 million hours per annum predates the roll out of electronic transmission of prescriptions suggesting further research is needed to quantify the efficiency gains in present NHS general practice environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2023


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