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ePMA (Electronic Prescribing & Medicines Administration)

The health secretary announced in January 2013 that the NHS needed to become paperless by 2018; a key element in achieving this target is e-prescribing. In May 2013, the NHS England Safer Hospitals Safer Wards Technology Fund was set up with a budget of£260 million to support trusts in this approach. County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has been successful in securing some of this funding to take forward its plans to move away from paper based drug charts and allow the administering of medicines to be done electronically.

At present, the current system for prescribing and administration of medicines in the Trust is based on a model set up over 40 years ago, since then medications used have grown in number and complexity with a resulting potential for greater risk to patients.

To address this, the Trust would like to enhance the prescribing functionality in its existing clinical management systems to enable it to deliver a complete electronic prescribing and medicines management (ePMA) service to its inpatient and day case patients, this will provide a safe and efficient way of prescribing medicines. A project team has been established to ensure the project is delivered on time and within budget.

The associated benefits for patients and clinicians are:

  • Increased quality of patient care and services.
  • Reduction in the risk of medical errors.
  • Decision support will enable clinicians to make more informed, safer decisions so that patients receive the most effective treatments in a more timely fashion.
  • Faster processing of discharge prescriptions, meaning patients are able to leave promptly when discharged.
  • Accurate up to date information available to clinicians in real time.

The project is in the early stages of implementation and will be rolled out across the Trust following a successful pilot phase. It will take 24 months to substantially roll out the functionality, with the full project completing within 36 months.

The total cost of delivering the project will be £3m. The Trust will receive £823,000 of funding from the Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards Technology Fund to assist us with the delivery of the ePMA project.

'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough - could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'

Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community Hospital