IT and EPS contingency planning
Published on: 16th July 2013 | Updated on: 27th September 2022
Business continuity resources are found at our Business continuity hub and the emergency and business continuity and template planning page. IT/EPS-specific additional resources and some suggested actions include the below. This website section has continued to be updated in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Temporary closure checklist
- Emergency closure checklist for community pharmacy – includes contractual, IT and other actions
Broader IT/EPS planning
- Pharmacy or ODS/IT change checklist for working through if you change supplier/ODS/IT/ownership/location.
- Working with GP practices on EPS business continuity for before or during an issue.
Technical failure, outages, live status, and systems
- See: List of suppliers and their info and the ‘service status link’ column present within supplier tables. Some suppliers provide live service status: at their websites; on Twitter; by email; and/or within the system itself.
- Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) system: See the ‘Business continuity’ section of the RTEC webpage.
- EPS and NHS IT service status checker webpage
- Guidance in event of technical failure
- Understanding EPS/IT failure points
- Avoiding data loss with PMR backup processes
- EPS Troubleshooting Factsheet (NHS Digital).
- Software/hardware may be upgraded but speak with your supplier or IT support first to maintain compatibilities
Updating opening hours on Directory of Services (DoS) and NHS website
For information about updating hours at DoS and NHS website see:
Working with EPS prescriptions and tokens
- Returning EPS prescription to the Spine
- Steps for locating a missing EPS prescription
- Using EPS Tracker standard mode or continuity mode e.g. how to use Tracker to obtain an EPS prescription number and pull down prescriptions more speedily, and more.
- Submitting EPS prescription in a timely fashion to mitigate issues in case of a temporary closure or technical outage.
- Split prescription items – dispensing for patients with medicines on both EPS and paper.
- EPS token problems with receiving or printing these.
- EPS Troubleshooting Factsheet (NHS Digital)
When EPS prescriptions cannot be obtained
The EPS troubleshooting factsheet sets out options for those situations when an EPS prescription cannot be resolved. The guide explains these are “in no particular order and professional judgment required to ascertain urgency and best option for the patient”.
- Patient to return to the pharmacy at a later time (if script not required immediately).
- Deliver prescriptions to patient when systems are resumed.
- Emergency supply at the request of the prescriber.
- Paper FP10 prescriptions printed by arrangement with the GP surgery.
- Referral to another pharmacy (not suitable for some scenarios).
- Refer to our cpe.org.uk/reportIT webpage which includes links to our reporting EPS one-pager factsheet, Smartcard escalation process, NHSmail escalation process and more. This webpage also explains: if your pharmacy is faced with having to close temporarily and you have an outstanding question about EPS/IT please contact email@example.com. Community Pharmacy England is working with NHS Digital and other organisations regarding the arrangements in the event of a temporary closure.
- Medicine database issues – medicinal items must be mapped against NHS medicine database (dm+d).
- Smartcards multi-site and SCR arrangements including the COVID-19 updates
- Obtaining Temp Access Smartcards if your local RA provides these.
- Setting up Smartcard sponsors/unlockes with extra admin/unlocking rights to reduce reliance on
- NHSmail webpage – technical queries section
- Spine EPS and NHS IT alerts can be sent to you to warn you of major NHS IT issues
- SCR reporting business continuity if this does not work.
- Ensure team members have Smartcards set-up with the appropriate roles and ODS codes on them (multi-site where needed) and NHSmail personal accounts that link to the pharmacy shared NHSmail mailbox.
- Review the webpages within this website section to support your IT contingency efforts.
- Sign-up to receive Spine EPS and NHS IT alerts so that you can receive an email or text when there are national EPS problems.
- Favourite and use the EPS and NHS IT service status checker webpage to check if NHS IT issues relate to national or system issues.
- Sign-up for Priority Services Register (PSR) for priority to utilities access in event of problems.
Return to the IT section: EPS home