INPATIENTS at the Great Western Hospital (GWH) will now have their medication prescribed electronically thanks to a new computer system.

Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust secured funding last year from an NHS fund for the Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (EPMA), to replaces handwritten charts and allow better communication between staff.

A total of 22 wards and several other inpatient areas at GWH will have the EPMA, which was developed by a dedicated project team, nurses and clinicians to suit the hospital’s needs.

The system enables staff to have real-time access on portable computers at a patient’s bedside or elsewhere to legible and accurate information about patients’ medication and medical history.

It helps improve patient safety by giving staff access to automatic warnings about allergic reactions, drug interactions and prescribing guidelines.

EPMA also improves patient discharge timings and the flow of patients from the Emergency Department.

It builds on the hospital’s prescription system for outpatients, where patient information is sent electronically to the pharmacy.

Tom Keith-Welsh, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s EPMA project manager said: “It is fantastic for patients that we have EPMA live at Great Western Hospital as it enhances the safe and effective care they currently receive.

“It is an excellent and easy-to-use tool for staff, many of whom have been involved in the moulding of the system to suit our ways of working.

“When a prescription is made using the system, it checks many criteria automatically, including whether two drugs should be used together safely, whether the patient is allergic to the medicine and if there are any other clinical concerns.”