Digital prescriptions added to NHS App

NHS Digital
NHS Digital

From today, a new feature added to the NHS App used in the UK will allow millions of people to submit and view prescriptions, in a bid to save time for patients and doctors. 

The digital prescription function, which does away with the need for paper scrip, was put through its paces in a pilot trial last year involving a million users of the app, now being used by three-quarters of the UK population - around 33.5 million people.

The function will generate a digital barcode on the app that can be scanned in pharmacies to identify the drug to be prescribed, and can also be used to allow patients to see when their prescriptions have been issued and see details of their prescribed medication.

Other updates to the five-year-old app mean that patients waiting for an elective hospital treatment will also now be able to see the average waiting time for their procedure at their local trust, according to an update from NHS England.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said the updates to the app will “ease pressures on our hardworking pharmacists and GPs – freeing up valuable time for patients and helping to cut waiting lists.”

Patients can already use the NHS App to request repeat prescriptions digitally and the number of repeats ordered through it has grown by 45% over the past year, with an average of 3.1 million now requested every month, said NHS England.

The agency added that each repeat prescription ordered through the app saves three minutes of GP time, which could be equivalent to 1.85 million hours saved in 2024.

NHS England’s recently published blueprint for recovering access to primary care set a target of March this year for more than 90% of general practices in England, in order to offer the existing features of the app - i.e. handling appointments, messaging with healthcare staff, and organising repeat prescriptions - and for patients to view their health records and test results.

Joe Harrison, national director of digital channels at NHS England, said a new campaign has been launched to encourage people to ‘tap the app’ when interacting with the health service.

“The campaign coincides with improvements within the app to make it easier for patients to find the services they need, providing a simplified and more intuitive experience,” he added.

In time, the aim is to add additional functions to the NHS App, including remote video consultations, improved access to screening services and clinical trials, and remote patient monitoring at home.