ITV reporter Ian Lang spoke to Eluned Morgan MS and local Barbara McEvoy about the implementation of E-prescriptions.
The rollout of a new electronic prescription service is set to affect the first patients in Wales from today.
Patients in Rhyl are the first in the country to use the new system which allows GPs to send prescriptions securely online to the patient’s choice of community pharmacy, without the need for a paper form.
Launching today, 17 November, the new service aims to make prescribing and dispensing of medicines for patients and healthcare professionals easier, safer and more efficient.
The previous method of physically printing, signing and handing a green paper prescription form to a patient, or waiting for it to be taken to the pharmacy, will not be necessary.
This approach will save up to 40 million paper forms from being printed this year.
Local pharmacy user, Barbara McEvoy, told ITV News: "You don't have to be 'techy' or computer savy, you don't have to do that, it's not a fear.
"It's taken out of your hands by the people that can deal with it properly. You don't need to have a computer, smartphone, anything!"
A wider rollout of the scheme will be implemented in January 2024, with the whole country aiming to use E-prescriptions in the near future.
Eventually, the aim is to implement an app patients can download that will send a message when the prescription are ready, cutting down the amount of people turning up only to be told it’s not there.
Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services, 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 altered significantly in decades.
“Electronic prescriptions will make a huge difference to the NHS and patients and is a major milestone in our journey towards digitising every prescription in every healthcare setting across Wales."
Commenting on the news the Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Russell George MS said:
"This news is very long overdue, e-prescriptions have been available in England since 2009, with over 90% issued in this way at the start of 2023.
"Labour-run Wales is behind the curve, whether that be for e-prescriptions or a functioning NHS app."
Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru’s Health and Social Care spokesperson, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, said:
"The NHS in Wales is far behind the rest of the world in terms of digital technology, and we have a long way to go to embrace the technologies that are easing and streamlining healthcare in other parts of the world.
"A paperless NHS with digital record keeping is key in order to make services easier to access and efficient, especially as the NHS continues to recover from Covid. In the past, however, opportunities have been missed and money mis-spent.
“This new development in electronic prescriptions is very welcome, however, we need assurances that it will be rolled in an equal way across Wales to all pharmacies and that this process does not open the door for other online pharmacies to step in as the process is slowly rolled out in Wales.”
The Royal College of General Practitioners said: "E-prescribing will be more efficient and that will allow GPs more time to spend with a greater number of patients. It is not going to resolve the extreme workload pressures in general practice, but it is a helpful practical step and I think patients will feel the benefit."
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