Transformation Directorate

New prescription data for secondary care available to support COVID-19 research

This is a joint press release with NHS Digital.

A new data collection that provides information about what medicines are prescribed and administered in hospitals is now available to support COVID-19 research.

Working with NHSX to support the COVID-19 response work, NHS Digital has established this new Hospital Prescribing and Administration resource, which has been set up as a daily collection of data from electronic prescription and administration systems.

This data, which relates to medicines prescribed and administered to patients, is sourced from secondary care NHS trusts in England, but is currently limited to those using electronic prescribing and administration systems (EPMA) supplied by WellSky (1). The collection will be expanded to include medicines data from the second cohort of Trusts using the Cerner system, going live by autumn 2021 (2). Linking this data with other NHS Digital data sets will help to:

  • support identification of patient groups who might be at higher risk of harm if they contract COVID-19 or show where particular medicines may provide greater protection or poorer outcomes
  • provide insight into how medicines have been used to treat COVID-19 patients in hospitals
  • understand patterns of prescribing before, during and after COVID-19
  • model the impact that treatment of serious infections including antibiotics, antivirals and antifungals has on patient outcomes and antimicrobial resistance over the course of the pandemic

Steven Marks Programme Manager at NHS Digital said: “Until recently there had been no central information available at patient level in secondary care to aid understanding and research into hospital prescribing practices, so this high-quality data will provide critical insight into how infection is being managed across NHS organisations in response to COVID-19.”

Ann Slee Associate CCIO (Medicines) at NHSX said ''This is a huge step forward and forms the basis for the longer-term national collection of EPMA data that will support numerous medication safety and other overprescribing initiatives.

“It will help us to further develop the right standards to underpin hospital prescribing and deepen our understanding of and approach to managing challenges such as antimicrobial resistance.''

Data will only be accessible to those that are able to demonstrate a legitimate need to look at the data, such as researchers and those involved in medicines policy to improve patient outcomes related to COVID-19. Access is strictly managed by NHS Digital’s Data Access request Service (DARS).


Notes for editors

  1. This currently covers around 9% of total prescribing activity in secondary care. The data to be made available through DARS will come from up to 45 Trusts in England (up to 25 Trusts using WellSky’s EPMA offering and latterly, up to 20 using Cerner).
  2. Data from Cerner EPMA systems capturing prescribing will be available in autumn 2021 providing an additional 6% of total prescribing activity.
  3. For media enquiries please contact or 0300 303 3888.