Contractor Notice – EPS tokens and NCSO endorsement no longer accepted for SSP claims

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that from February 2022, only the ‘SSP’ endorsement will be accepted on electronic prescriptions and paper FP10 prescription forms to claim for any supplies made in accordance with a valid Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP). The ‘SSP’ endorsement, introduced in June 2021, uses the code ‘SSP’ followed by the three-digit reference number applicable to the SSP for example, SSP for Paracetamol 120mg suppositories would be endorsed as ‘SSP 015’.

From February 2022, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) will NO longer accept the ‘NCSO’ endorsement and/or use of the EPS tokens by contractors to claim for any supplies made in accordance with a valid SSP.


To allow for implementation of the new SSP endorsement functionality, a transition period (between 1 June 21 – 5 October 21) was initially agreed to allow continued use of the ‘NCSO’ endorsement and EPS tokens by contractors to claim for any supplies made in accordance with a valid SSP. This transition period was extended by a further three months to the end of January 2022 to not only allow system suppliers sufficient time to make changes to their systems but to also allow contractors an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new SSP endorsement requirements. From February 2022, only the new SSP endorsement (for example, SSP 015) will be accepted for any SSP claims.

Invalid SSP claims

In the past few months, the NHSBSA has received a significant number of invalid EPS SSP claims submitted by contractors.  The main reasons for these incorrect/invalid SSP claims are due to:

  1. Incorrect item endorsed – Incorrect item endorsed was almost always the same as original prescribed item rather than the alternative supplied in accordance with a valid SSP. Majority of the SSP errors were for incorrect item endorsed on the EPS messages (Electronic Reimbursement Endorsement Messages (EREMs)).
  2. Invalid or incorrect SSP reference number endorsed – For example SSP 000, SSP (missing reference number), SSP 028 (incorrect number), SSP 05 (two instead of three digits).
  3. SSP claims for prescribed items without an active SSP – SSP endorsed against items for which an SSP did not exist.
  4. Claims for supplies made in accordance with an expired SSP:
    • No active SSP in place at the time of supply – ie SSP claimed for items on prescriptions issued after SSP expired
    • Alternative item correctly supplied during the period of SSP validity but Dispense Notification message submitted after the period of SSP validity
    • Alternative item correctly supplied during the period of SSP validity and the Dispense Notification message submitted during the period of SSP validity but the EREM or Claim Notification message submitted after the 3-month claiming window.
PMR systems

NHSBSA is working with system suppliers to identify and support improvements to existing SSP endorsement functionality offered by suppliers to help reduce the number of invalid SSP claims received by the NHSBSA. To minimise the risk of any endorsing errors via EPS, pharmacy teams are advised to check with their system suppliers on the correct use of the SSP endorsement functionality available through individual systems.

Contractors may raise with their system supplier if the EPS SSP endorsement functionality is unavailable or needs improving.  Suppliers also have some flexibility as to the extent to which they will support pharmacy team members for example, by asking users to complete any missing or incomplete SSP endorsement information if the required endorsements are not present or not in the specified format. System suppliers have been informed they can add validation to reduce the risk of  invalid SSP endorsements (e.g. to ensure three-digits are always entered for the SSP reference number).

PSNC Top Tips:

  • For any supplies made in accordance with an SSP, contractors should refer to the latest supporting guidance for each SSP available on NHSBSA’s SSP page
  • Always double check that SSP endorsements reflect the requirements outlined in the supporting guidance published for each SSP (ensuring that the ‘SSP’ endorsement is always followed by a three-digit reference number)
  • Where required, endorse details of the replacement drug(s) supplied in accordance with the SSP and not the details of the drug that was originally prescribed
  • Where required, only endorse strength(s)/formulation(s) of drugs that are covered by the SSP
  • Unless SSP is for reduced quantity, ensure the correct quantity of the alternative product is endorsed to cover the equivalent number of days treatment as indicated on the original prescription
  • Ensure your endorsements are accurate and clear – NHSBSA processing staff must be able to determine what has been supplied
  • If any claims for SSPs have been endorsed incorrectly and before a claim is submitted for payment, where PMR systems allow, contractors may be able to retrieve any submitted EPS dispense notification messages by using the claim amend facility
  • Please note that SSPs cannot be supplied past the period of SSP validity. Any other items on the prescription (such as an owing) can continue to be dispensed as usual but must be submitted for payment within three months of expiry of the SSP
  • There is a separate declaration of monthly SSP claims on the digital FP34C submission form via the Manage Your Service (MYS) portal. Here, contractors should endorse the number of SSP claims made each month and not the number of items supplied in accordance with the SSPs. The number of items supplied in accordance with SSPs are to be declared along with the usual item totals.
  • Please note that the NHSBSA will not be using the SSP declaration made on the FP34Cs for reimbursement purposes. Instead the SSP declaration is to provide the NHSBSA with an indication that SSP claim(s) are expected in that month. The SSP declaration is to support contractors when reconciling the number of SSP fees on their payment schedules against the number of SSP claims declared on the FP34C
  • Review whether your PMR system enables complete and correct SSP endorsements. If you have suggestions about how system usability and functionality could be improved, feed these back to your PMR supplier

Additional information

PSNC’s SSP page and list of active SSPs