Smartcard multi-site and SCR arrangements

Published on: 16th July 2015 | Updated on: 1st June 2022

Pharmacy team members use NHS Smartcards to access NHS IT such as EPS and Summary Care Records (SCR).

The Smartcard model sets out that Local Registration Authorities (RAs) prepare or update Smartcards for pharmacy team members by applying (or ‘linking’) to each Smartcard:

  1. Smartcard pharmacy ‘roles (e.g. roles to enable pharmacy team activities such as ability to change EPS nomination and downloading of EPS prescriptions etc).
  2. The pharmacy organisation ODS (F) codes where the person will work. Each pharmacy premises has its own unique ODS code. Multiple ODS codes can be linked onto Smartcards for those staff that work at more than one site.
  3. Smartcard SCR rights ‘roles which continue to be applied to the Smartcard separately from other pharmacy roles. SCR rights roles may be linked with each ODS code set on the card. Requests are made if the SCR checklist is completed. The checklist criteria applies to the pharmacy as well each person requesting SCR rights. An NHS Digital application form may be used to make some SCR Smartcard requests. Note: pharmacists or pharmacy technicians with GPhC registration numbers may fulfill the criteria to access SCR.

Requests to update cards may be made by the Smartcard holder to the RA. Other staff at the pharmacy or head office may also make or support the request and the RA’s necessary identity verification work.

Some pharmacy teams have people within the pharmacy that hold Smartcard Administrator/Sponsor rights. Those with administrative rights can better use the Smartcard Care Identity Service (CIS) system to speed up working through Smartcard processes. Pharmacy Smartcard Administrator/Sponsors may work with RAs on behalf of other team members.

See the FAQs for issues to be aware of relating to Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) and locums’ Smartcards / SCR rights.

COVID-19 update and Smartcards and their usage at multi-pharmacies (updated March 2020)

In these times where there could a risk of staff shortages and temporary closure of some pharmacies caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, within some localities LPCs and RAs are working together to further refine the localised multi-site policies for example making provisions so that those with a technician or pharmacist profile on their Smartcart will be granted with the multi-site FFFFF generic site code onto their Smartcard. Community Pharmacy England’s IT  team is also working with national organisations on the matter and learnings from such localities will be considered. LPCs may use the  Smartcard escalation process as required.

NHS  Digital have confirmed their position: “It has been agreed that wider use of the National Locum Pharmacy Agency code and position (FFFFF) can be used, but it is important that RAs keep a log of users given this access for exceptional reasons so that it can be revoked as appropriate at some point in the future.

This position was also published onto the NHS Digital website on 24th March 2020. Community Pharmacy England continues to speak with NHS Digital and other stakeholders about further adjustments to Smartcards and multi-site arrangements.

Local RAs can also perform identity verification where required via videocon methods during the ongoing pandemic in accordance with guidance from NHS Digital guidance intended for RAs here about identify verification during the pandemic.

Processes for updating ODS codes set onto a Smartcard

The processes are:

Process for staff working within one pharmacy or a regular group of pharmacies

Pharmacy team members will have at least one Organisation Data Service (ODS) code linked to their Smartcard. Extra ODS codes can be linked later if the team member will need to start to work at another pharmacy (e.g. within the pharmacy group).

Pharmacy staff who regularly work within a group of pharmacies (e.g. four local pharmacies) can have their Smartcard set to work in each (each ODS code having been linked to the Smartcard). Pharmacy team members may select the right pharmacy that they are working at for a particular day when logging in with the Smartcard.

Process for staff (e.g. locums) working at many pharmacy sites at short notice

The RA can be contacted regarding arrangements for staff working at many sites (e.g. five or more) and where some sites could be worked at with short notice. RAs may consider whether relevant criteria is met and if the ‘FFFFF’ code can be granted to that person. More than one person may be involved with making the request or demonstrating proof of identity – i.e. the Smartcard holder and/or senior staff at pharmacies and/or pharmacy head office staff.

Further information relating to the processes associated with the ‘FFFFF’ code:

  • If community pharmacists, pharmacy technicians or dispensing assistants need to legitimately work within many community pharmacies at short notice they may meet criteria for requesting a multi-site ‘FFFFF’ Smartcard code. Such users may frequently work amongst at least five pharmacies. The multi-site code is a user role profile registered against a generic organisation ‘FFFFF’ ODS code for a ‘locum pharmacy’ (sometimes referred to as ‘5F’). This will allow the person to access NHS IT such as EPS at any pharmacy. RAs will consider granting requests for FFFFF to be linked to Smartcards where suitable criteria has been demonstrated.
  • There will be an issue for locum pharmacists using their Smartcard as required if they arrive at a pharmacy without their Smartcard being able to be operational at that site. It can take time for cards to be upgraded by the local RA (even if the RA can make changes to the Smartcard remotely) so it is important that contractors, pharmacy teams and locum staff plan regarding the management of their Smartcards. RAs may require supporting information from pharmacies you work at.
  • Within localities, if the RA does not issue FFFFF for any of those staff that meet usual national criteria (and if the RA also will not provide equivalent e.g. 24/7 availability of local RA staff, so that ODS codes can be linked or unlinked quickly and remotely), locum pharmacy staff might be unable to speedily download or dispense an electronic prescription for a patient causing patient safety risk. If contractors and LPCs cannot resolve issues locally by emailing and speaking with the RA and representatives of their commissioner then the Smartcard service route may be followed.
  • Community Pharmacy England recommends that even those pharmacy staff which have FFFFF on their Smartcard should continue to link any ODS codes of pharmacies where they frequently work (with the support of those pharmacy contractors), to reduce the need to use the generic code each time and to improve the overall auditability of the Smartcard system and the usability of some NHS IT features for pharmacy contractors and all of their team e.g. SCR accesses can then more easily be recorded more accurately against the correct pharmacy ODS code (important in the event of any Quality Scheme arrangements which relate to SCR usage activity).

Process for having SCR rights enabled for each ODS code

As mentioned, there is also a process for linking SCR rights onto all/some/FFFFF ODS codes after those are already on the Smartcard. SCR rights are granted for specific ODS codes (or granted onto the FFFFF code on your card).  It is recommended that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians (regulated within GPhC frameworks) that regularly work at the pharmacies all complete the SCR access checklist so that each can then have SCR rights applied to each relevant ODS code. An NHS Digital application form may be used to make SCR Smartcard rights to be linked to the ‘FFFFF’ code which has already been linked to the card by the RA.

Process for unlinking ODS codes

ODS codes may also be unlinked from Smartcards once the ODS codes do not need to be on those Smartcards using the ODS code unlinking process.

Frequently asked questions

Q. How can I have the SCR role linked to my Smartcard’s ODS code(s)?

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at sites going live with SCR, will be in the process of having SCR roles linked onto their Smartcard. The changes can usually be made remotely.

Once you have completed the SCR CPPE e-assessment, you can tick the box under the ‘SCR assessment registration process’ heading in your profile on the ‘My CPPE’ section of the website. This will allow the RA to see that you have passed the assessment and then allow you access to SCRs on your Smartcard. You may require SCR rights

Q. I have a Smartcard with the FFFFF locum code, how can I have the SCR role linked to my Smartcard’s FFFFF code?

Locum pharmacists and pharmacy technicians with the FFFFF Smartcard generic code may follow previous NHS Digital guidance order to gain access to SCR which has previously stated the below:

If locums with the FFFFF Smartcard code work in regular sites – they may have the site linked to their card to reduce the need to use the generic code each time. The RA may check this after SCR access is requested. If there is no longer the business need for the FFFFF, this may be unlinked. If the FFFFF code is not present but may be needed, this could be raised with the RA (in situations where many pharmacies are worked at, at short notice). Locums which may work at multiple sites at short notice can apply for SCR locum access using the NHS Digital application form. The RAs may be involved with the approval process.

Q. Our pharmacy provides the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS), if locum pharmacists are working at my pharmacy, will they need a Smartcard that can enable the person to access SCR within my pharmacy?

Pharmacy contractors which provide the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) will be aware that the CPCS service specification sets out that “Pharmacists providing the service must have access to the NHS Summary Care Record (SCR)”. Locum pharmacists are encouraged to be aware of the FAQs above as well as the other information set out on this webpage. Locum staff may consider whether they have appropriate ODS codes already linked to their Smartcard, and SCR rights associated with each ODS code or the FFFFF code (noting that support from senior staff at the pharmacy and/or the head office if there is one, may be needed to complete this). Locums or others that have met criteria to access SCR can test that access is fully as expected using the NHS portal: (Smartcard required), selecting ‘Launch SCR’, and practising by using example test NHS numbers (e.g. use the number: 999 040 2132).

Although only pharmacists will provide CPCS, it is also helpful for pharmacy technicians to also ensure they have worked through the SCR access criteria so that they can also access SCR where required e.g. for non-CPCS purposes.

Read more at: within one-pager Community Pharmacy England IT factsheets: Smartcard processes and tipsUsing Care Identity Service (CIS) Smartcard model overview and SCR checklist.



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