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Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services

First published:
5 January 2023
Last updated:

I launched the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio (DMTP) in September 2021 and updated Members in May 2022. We continue to make significant progress across the programme – this statement sets out the work to date and the next steps.

The DMTP team, hosted by Digital Health and Care Wales, is coordinating all activity across NHS Wales. There are four main areas:

  • Primary care, which includes the implementation of the electronic prescription service.
  • Secondary care, which focuses on the digitisation of hospital prescribing and medicine administration activities and the electronic transfer of prescription information on discharge from hospital and from outpatient departments to community pharmacies.
  • Patient access and the development of medicines related functionality in the NHS Wales App.
  • Shared medicines record – the creation of a central repository, where a person’s medicines information will be held. It will enable the seamless transfer of medicines information in real-time between primary and secondary care settings and between NHS organisations.

The DMTP team is working with the Centre for Digital Public Services to undertake user discovery activities with NHS organisations, to inform the development and design of digital portfolio products to ensure they meet the needs of the public and clinicians.

I will take each area in turn. In primary care, the programme team has progressed plans for the electronic prescription service (EPS), based on the platform developed by NHS England and is working towards a technical proof of concept in Spring 2023, with a rollout to GP surgeries and pharmacies as soon as possible after that.

EPS deployment in Wales will require private sector companies, which provide GP and community pharmacy IT systems, to undertake software development. Some IT systems will be ready before others – the rollout will therefore be planned and delivered in phases. It is expected the first prescriptions will be sent electronically from GP practices to dispensing pharmacies in summer or early autumn 2023.

We are also working with community pharmacy IT system providers to encourage them to minimise the use of paper, optimise processes and enhance the service provided to the public, including tracking prescription requests, so people know when their prescription has been received by the pharmacy and when it is ready for collection.

In secondary care, the all-Wales electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (ePMA) multi-vendor procurement framework was published by DHCW on 1 November. This allows NHS organisations to select from a national approved list of inter-operable systems to digitise their prescribing and administration of medicines on every ward and outpatient settings in every hospital in Wales.

All health boards are now in the pre-implementation stage of the programme to implement their chosen system as quickly and safely as possible. The first health board will award a contract under the framework towards the end of this financial year and will begin deployment by autumn 2023.

The initial feature requirements have been provided to the NHS Wales App development team and the first iteration of functionality is expected in the next few weeks. This will include repeat prescription reordering. Later versions will include the ability to nominate a preferred community pharmacy to receive prescriptions and the ability to track the status of a prescription.

The Shared Medicines Record (SMR) project has assessed a number of technical platform options and is on track to deliver a proof of concept by Spring 2023 – in preparation to share the list of prescribed medicines between GP systems and secondary care ePMAs (as they are implemented).

Work on defining all-Wales information standards for medicines information sharing has progressed well, and a Data Standards Change Notice will be published to health boards, trusts and suppliers before the end of this year. This will ensure a consistent medicines language is used across systems to enable the seamless and safe sharing of medicines information. We are keen to learn from others in this highly-innovative area and the SMR team continues to collaborate with other areas of the UK and Europe.

I will continue to update Members as work progresses.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.