Electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD)




What is an eRD?

If you or someone you care for uses the same medicines regularly, you may be able to benefit from electronic repeat dispensing. This means you won't have to re-order or collect your repeat prescriptions from your GP practice every time you need more medicine.

You simply collect your regular medication from your usual pharmacy each month without actually having to order it.

To enable electronic dispensing you need to have a nominated pharmacy and we will set this with you. Your regular medication will then be available at that pharmacy.

When your pharmacy supplies your last electronic repeat prescription, they will inform you. You will then have to contact your GP practice to ask for another set of electronic repeat prescriptions. You may need to be seen for a review before another batch of electronic repeat dispensing prescription is authorised.


How would I know if I am eligible for the eRD service?

In order to qualify for the repeat dispensing service a patient would need to satisfy the four criteria outlined below:

  • Stable Medication: No significant changes in the last 6 months and no anticipated changes for the duration of the suggested batch
  • Stable condition: No recent unplanned hospital admissions (in the previous 6 months)
  • Up to date medication monitoring: Medication review completed within last 6 months
  • Up to date monitoring: Attendance at clinics (e.g. diabetes or asthma reviews), appropriate blood tests performed and satisfactory within appropriate timescales

Benefits of eRD

  • Electronic repeat dispensing (eRD) is an integral part of EPS, which offers many extra benefits over paper repeat dispensing and repeat prescribing. 

  • two-thirds of prescriptions issued in primary care are repeat prescriptions. These repeat prescriptions account for nearly 80% of NHS medicine costs for primary care
  • 410 million repeat prescriptions are generated every year - equivalent to an average of more than 375 per GP per week
  • it's estimated that up to 330 million, or 80%, of all repeat prescriptions could eventually be replaced with eRD
  • this could save 2.7 million hours of GP and practice time

How does eRD Work?

  • eRD allows the prescriber to authorise and issue a batch of repeatable prescriptions for up to 12 months with just one digital signature.
  • eRD stores all issues of the eRD prescriptions securely on the NHS Spine and automatically downloads them to the patient's nominated community pharmacy at intervals set by the prescriber. 
  • eRD allows the cancellation at item or whole prescription level, which will cancel all subsequent issues on the Spine. 
  • PRN or 'when required' medication can be prescribed using eRD (it's advised that PRN items are set up as a separate eRD batch as they may have a different interval to the patient's other eRD batches). The prescriber can set the specified intervals based on the patient's usage history to predict the number of uses/doses. If the patient runs out, the subsequent issue can be downloaded in advance - based on clinical assessment by the dispenser. This may mean an extra prescription is needed to ensure the patient has enough medication to last until their next review. Some prescribing systems have a variable prescription type, which helps with this.

Benefits For Patients

Benefits for patients include:

  • no need to contact the surgery to reorder at regular intervals unless their condition changes
  • retain regular contact with their dispenser, who is responsible for checking that their circumstances haven't changed since the previous issue of the prescription was collected
  • change nominated dispenser at any time during the duration of the eRD prescription 
  • if clinically appropriate can request the next issue early or obtain more than one prescription, for example when going on holiday

How can eRD be set up?

Step 1

Talk to your GP or the person who prescribes your medicines and ask them if you can use electronic repeat prescriptions. Your prescriber will usually be your doctor or practice nurse. You can also discuss this with you clinical pharmacist at the practice.

If your prescriber thinks that you could use electronic repeat prescriptions for your regular medicines, they will ask you for permission to share information about your medication with your pharmacist. This will help your pharmacist to give your prescriber feedback about your treatment and provide you with useful advice.

Your GP or prescriber will then authorise a number of electronic repeat prescriptions. This will be based on your circumstances and clinical need. These electronic repeat prescriptions will then be supplied to you by your pharmacy at regular intervals.


Step 2

Collect your first electronic repeat prescription from your pharmacy.


Step 3

When you need more medicines, go back to your pharmacy. Before dispensing the next issue of your prescription, your pharmacy should ask:

  • have you seen any health professionals (GP, nurse or hospital doctor), since your last repeat prescription was supplied?
  • have you recently started taking any new medicines - either on prescription or that you have bought over the counter?
  • have you been having any problems with your medication or experiencing any side effects?
  • are there any items on your repeat prescription that you don't need this month?

If you don't need all of the medicines on your prescription, let the pharmacy staff know, so that they only supply the medicines you need. This will help to reduce waste and save the NHS money.


Step 4

When your pharmacy supplies your final electronic repeat prescription in the series that your GP has authorised, they will advise you to contact your GP practice. Your doctor, clinical pharmacist or practice nurse may want to see you to review your medication before they will authorise more electronic repeat prescriptions.

Please check with the pharmacy each time which issue you are collecting.

  • On the last issue please let the surgery know as soon as possible that you need to order more medication as this will give us time to order any necessary tests/reviews.
  • It is the patient’s responsibility to let the surgery know that they have collected their last prescription in the batch.


Frequently asked questions

What Happens If I Am Going Away On Holiday?

If you are going away on holiday and need the prescription a little earlier or perhaps need an additional prescription to cover an extended period the community pharmacist can arrange this, although this is at their discretion based on whether they feel this is appropriate.


Why Might The Number Of Instalments Change Each Time

If you are due monitoring we may reduce the number of issues. We will always try to give you the maximum number of issues of your prescription taking you up to any appointments that may be due. We will inform you of any monitoring you need when you request your next batch.


Will The Same Pharmacy Have To Dispense All The Forms?

No. It is possible to change pharmacies during the batch, however you should consider whether repeat dispensing is the right thing for you, e.g. if you work away from home and don’t always use the same pharmacy, then repeat dispensing in its present form would not be suitable for you.


What Happens If I Want To Change Pharmacy?

If for any reason you want to change dispensing arrangements, e.g. if you move house, then you will need to inform your pharmacy. They can then return any outstanding prescriptions to the NHS spine so that your new pharmacy can access them. Ask your pharmacy to give you a copy of the prescription token so that your new pharmacy can scan it and download the next issue.


Will I Have To Pay For Each Instalment?

Normal prescription charges will apply when you collect each instalment, unless you are covered by an exemption category as listed on the reverse of the prescription forms. You will be asked to confirm the amount of payment made at the pharmacy or the reason that you don’t pay, by filling in the appropriate section of the batch form.


What If I Don’t Need Every Item Each Issue?

Your pharmacy will check with you whether all the medication is required when is prescription is issued. If an item is not dispensed they marked this on the batch prescription form and the NHS will not be charged for that medication on that issue.


What happens if I lose my medication?

The pharmacist could dispense an instalment early if they felt it was appropriate but it is probably better to contact the surgery for one off script to put you back on track.