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Electronic repeat dispensing (eRD)

Our GP Assurance team are working in collaboration with CCGs to help prescribers and dispensers realise the benefits of increased eRD use.

Electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) was introduced in July 2009 as a non-compulsory method of dispensing prescriptions electronically. From April 2019, as stated in the GP contract, eRD became a contractual obligation for all patients where it is clinically appropriate and the patient consents.

eRD advice following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

As part of the preparations to prioritise work and help manage an increased pressure on the health service, NHS England and NHS Improvement are advising that: 

“Practices should consider putting all suitable patients on electronic repeat dispensing as soon as possible. The whole repeatable prescription can be valid for a year but each repeat should be for no longer than the patient has now.

For example, if the patient has prescriptions for a month’s supply now, then the repeat dispensing should be set up as 13 x 28 days’ supply.”

We can provide GP practices with NHS Numbers for patients who potentially might be suitable for eRD.

We can provide support and guidance for GPs on how to increase their levels of eRD use.

You can find out more information about the support we can offer in our electronic Repeat Dispensing in response to COVID-19 slides (PDF:1.52MB) from our joint webinar session with Wessex AHSN. 

To request more information about this service, email

What is eRD?

This video was produced in collaboration with NHS Digital. It was created primarily for pharmacies to explain the high level process behind eRD.

Download the video transcript.

NHS Numbers for patients potentially suitable for eRD

To help support the response to COVID-19, NHSBSA has introduced a new streamlined service for GP practices to receive NHS Numbers for patients who may be eligible for eRD. Patients will be identified through the following metrics:

Metric Description
Patients on single medication for the last 12 months

Use as a metric for priority 1 cohort.
Identify patients on a single unchanged medication for the last 12 months on EPS.

Patients on two medications for the last 12 months

Patients have been included on the basis that they have received at least 12 prescriptions for the same two medications, in the 12 month period specified.

Patients may have received more than one prescription in any given month, so there may be gaps in any individual patient's prescribing history.

Patients on three medications for the last 12 months

Patients have been included on the basis that they have received at least 12 prescriptions for the same three medications, in the 12 month period specified.

Patients may have received more than one prescription in any given month, so there may be gaps in any individual patient's prescribing history.

We’re only able to send NHS numbers to email addresses. Collaboration is key to the successful implementation of eRD. Therefore, CCGs embarking on moving patients to eRD must discuss plans with their local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) prior to switching.

  1. We’ll contact GP practices to confirm whether they have an active email address.
  2. Once confirmed, we’ll send the practice an email with a password-protected ZIP file. This will contain the NHS Number and the name of item prescribed for every patient that is potentially eligible for eRD.
  3. A clinician should then review the patient records of those patients to ensure that they are appropriate for eRD.
  4. The practice should then arrange for verified patients to be moved to eRD.

We've also created a library of resources to help you increased your eRD uptake. Visit our eRD resources page to see the materials available. 

If you have any queries about this process please contact us at

Requesting NHS numbers for GP practices

The following can currently request NHS numbers for GP practices:

  • GP practices
  • Primary Care Network clinical pharmacists who are working on behalf of GP practices
  • Medicines optimisation teams from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)

Note that PCN clinical pharmacists and CCGs will only be able to request this information under the Covid-19 emergency regulations which are currently due to expire in September 2020. 

How to request NHS numbers

All requests for NHS numbers as part of the Covid-19 response should be made to

For NHS numbers to be supplied, the requester must have an email address as these are encrypted and secure. email addresses are not acceptable.

  • GP Practices: We have contacted approximately 6,500 GP practices for whom we had contact details. If you work for a GP practice and would like to receive NHS numbers for your practice, contact
  • PCNs and CCGs: Provide the practice name and practice code of each practice you are supporting and would like the NHS numbers for. You will also need to specify which email address you would like the NHS number data to be sent to. Remember this has to be an email address. You will receive two emails for each practice you have requested (one containing password and one containing the data).

We will validate requests to ensure they are genuine.

Each request will be reviewed to ensure that it has come from a genuine email address. If there are any concerns, we will contact the requester to discuss.

Note that this is a temporary emergency measure. Once the Covid-19 regulations have lapsed, only GP practices will be able to request NHS numbers.


Data guidance

When using this data please ensure you adhere to information governance guidelines, in particular only share with individuals who are engaging in the care of these patients. Ensure the safe guardianship of the data once you are in receipt of it and to securely delete the details once they have been acted upon or are deemed inappropriate.

Please be aware that the file should be downloaded by the recipient using a desktop PC or official laptop.  If the e-mail is forwarded or it is opened via a mobile phone or tablet the data attachment may be lost.


Explanatory Notes on NHS Number data

This analysis identifies patients aged 18 years or older on stable medications that are prescribed via EPS but not already electronic repeat dispensed. It shows patients that may be suitable for electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) for the latest 12-month period.

It is possible that patients identified may receive other products on an electronic repeat dispensed basis. It is also possible that patients are not receiving the medications identified via eRD due to clinical or other reasons.

Stable medication is defined as follows: A patient has received a product in the same strength, based on the generic name of the drug (e.g. Paracetamol 500mg tablets) in 10, 11 or 12 months of the latest 12-month period.

In selecting suitable items/patients, the following have been excluded:

  • Items that are electronic repeat dispensed
  • Dispensing doctor prescription items
  • FP10MDAs prescription forms
  • Personally administered items
  • Patients receiving any Controlled Drug items during the analysis period
  • Appliance prescription items

Data has been sourced from the NHSBSA Information Services Data Warehouse:

  • Based on dispensed prescription items that were processed by the NHSBSA, not including items not dispensed, disallowed or returned back
  • Excludes items prescribed but not presented for dispensing or not submitted to NHS Prescription Services by the dispenser

Patient Identification:

  • Results are limited to prescription items where the patient's NHS Number could be identified from the prescription
  • The patient age is based on the age captured from the prescription form or if this is not possible it may be calculated based on the patients date of birth and the month for which the prescription was submitted
  • Results exclude patients whose age could not be identified
  • Patients may have received prescribing in more than one practice but their prescribing will only be shown for the practice shown above