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Question for Department of Health

UIN 61571, tabled on 25 January 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate he has made of the (a) number of repeat dispensing prescriptions issued in England in each year from 2010 to 2015 and (b) savings made in each year as a result of repeat dispensing; and what steps the Government is taking to encourage greater use of repeat dispensing.

Answered on

30 January 2017

The available information on the number of repeat dispensing prescription items issued in England is in the table below:


Number of repeat dispensing prescription items (000s)









Source: provided by the NHS Business Services Authority

The estimated benefits of electronic repeat dispensing over single paper prescriptions is set out in the table. NHS Digital has advised that these figures represent the collective value of greater efficiency due to:

- clinical (eg general practitioner (GP)) time saved from digitally signing and cancelling electronic repeat prescriptions over the physical signature on paper prescriptions;

- prescriber administrative time savings resulting from reduced process steps for routine repeat electronic prescriptions replacing paper; and

- the reduction in the volume of paper and signing time (one digital signature per batch) over repeat prescribing in GP practices.

Financial year

Estimated benefits (£000s)













Source: NHS Digital

NHS England has advised that, where relevant, it is utilising every opportunity to promote and support the increased growth of the use of electronic repeat dispensing. For example the service specification for the NHS Urgent Medicine Supply advanced service pilot states that one of the aims and intended outcomes of this service is ‘to increase patients’ awareness of the electronic Repeat Dispensing Service’.

NHS England has also been working very closely with NHS Digital, which has launched an awareness campaign to promote the use of electronic repeat dispensing. An electronic repeat dispensing toolkit along with an E-learning module to support users have been made available at:

These have been supported with national communications and webinars. There is also a team of implementation managers supporting the roll out of electronic repeat dispensing across the country by providing support at clinical commissioning group and GP practice level and engaging local community pharmacies in the process.

Named day
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