Extension to Paracetamol 240mg suppositories (SSP051)

Update 05/05/23 – The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has provided an update on the Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) for Paracetamol 240mg suppository (SSP051) was due to expire 5 May 2023 but have been further extended to Friday 12 May 2023.

In response to a significant ongoing disruption to the supply of Paracetamol 240mg suppositories , a Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) has been issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Effective today, 17 March 2023, SSP051 provides that for every Paracetamol 240mg suppository originally prescribed, one Paracetamol 250mg suppository must be supplied. SSP051, authorised by the Secretary of State, has been developed by clinicians and provides pharmacists with procedures to follow in providing this alternative product to help reduce the number of patients having to return to their prescriber for a replacement prescription.

For prescriptions (NHS or private) requesting: Supply permitted under SSP051:
Paracetamol 240mg suppositories Paracetamol 250mg suppositories

The SSP may be amended or revoked at any time but currently expires on 5th May 2023 – PSNC will update contractors on any changes.

Key points relating to SSP051

    • These protocols do not allow for the quantity supplied to be less than the number of days prescribed on original prescription.
    • There is a separate SSP in place for Paracetamol 120mg suppositories.
    • SSP051 only allows substitution of Paracetamol 240mg suppositories.
    • Ensure that patients considered unsuitable for inclusion are promptly referred to their prescriber for further advice.
    • The supervising pharmacist should ensure that the patient’s prescriber is notified when supplying a patient in accordance with these SSPs
    • The supervising pharmacist, using their professional judgement determines that swapping the patient to a different strength of suppository would not be suitable for the patient
    • For endorsing requirements please refer to NHSBSA’s supporting guidance for SSP051.

Pharmacists must exercise their professional judgement to ensure the alternative products are suitable for the patient.

Contractors will receive an email to their shared NHSmail account informing them of these SSPs and pharmacy teams are advised to read the documentation for SSP051 in full and to implement the protocol with immediate effect. Pharmacists are required to read and comply with the requirements outlined within the individual SSP as published on the NHSBSA website for SSP051: Paracetamol 240mg suppositories.


Reimbursement is for the medicine supplied in accordance with the SSP and not the originally prescribed medicine i.e. in this instance contractors will be reimbursed the reimbursement price for Paracetamol 250mg suppositories. The reimbursement price will account for VAT payment. Supply in accordance with the SSP will result in the following fees being paid to the contractor:

  • One Single Activity fee (currently £1.27)
  • One SSP fee (£5.35)

Support in implementing the SSPs

The following resources have been developed to support pharmacy teams in using these protocols.

Current versions of SSPs

Serious Shortage Protocols Operational Guidance

Serious Shortage Protocols Questions & Answers

PSNC’s Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) Endorsing Factsheet

PSNC Briefing 023/19: Serious Shortage Protocols – A guide for community pharmacy teams

Background information on SSPs

Further information on what SSPs are and when they may be used is available via the links below.

Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) on-demand webinar

Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) webpage

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