Smartcard model changes and rights extension

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHS added multi-site ‘FFFFF’ (5F) codes and SCR (Summary Care Record) rights onto NHS Smartcards with the pharmacist or pharmacy technician role.

These rights were due to expire on 31st January 2023, but NHS England has bulk changed pharmacy professionals’ Smartcards, to extend these rights until 1st February 2027.

At the same time, other changes have also been made to the pharmacy Smartcard model, which make it the most significant update since its inception. NHS England, with our support, has:

  • created new baseline positions for pharmacy Smartcards;
  • updated relevant guidance and processes about Smartcards;
  • extended the certificate renewal period from two years to three years;
  • clarified how position end dates work and established a new way for card holders to check what positions are linked to their card.

Pharmacy IT system suppliers have also been briefed about the potential for supplier integration with Care Identity Service 2 (further details below) which could enable them to provide alternative user authentication in the future, without the need for cards.

Why were rights for pharmacy professionals extended?

Following positive feedback from Community Pharmacy England, Community Pharmacy IT Group and the sector about the clinical value of applying 5F and SCR rights to those with the pharmacist or pharmacy technician role on their Smartcard, NHS England agreed to extend these rights while updating the default pharmacy baseline positions.

Commenting on the development Community Pharmacy England’s IT Policy Manager, Dan Ah-Thion, said:

“We have welcomed Smartcard model enhancements and this bulk change by NHS England, which can help an increasingly mobile pharmacy workforce and supports the recent launch of the Pharmacy First service by ensuring pharmacy professionals have continuing rights to use their Smartcards across multiple premises and for access to the National Care Record Service portal (formerly called the SCRa portal).“

“We are also excited about the opportunity associated with NHS Care Identity Service 2 programme, which will soon start to allow IT suppliers and the NHS to offer other options besides physical Smartcards within pharmacies.”

About end dates

The change extends the 5F and SCR rights for three years, until 1st February 2027.  Prior to 1st February 2027, the policy will be reviewed and NHS England will determine whether a further extension can be applied or communications will be issued if there are actions for card holders.

Other end dates changes:

  1. Smartcard certificate renewals – these can now occur every three years, as the renewal period has been extended from two to three years.
  2. End dates relating to positions granted by local RAs: the NHS Care Identity Service team has notified local Registration Authorities (RAs) that they can now grant any new pharmacy positions, including positions with 5F rights, for up to three years.

Each position on a Smartcard has its own position end date. Past position end dates may have been issued for varying periods by the local RA. The decision to advise RAs that they can grant positions for up to three years is intended to enable a more consistent process for RAs and pharmacy staff.

Method for checking your position end dates: All Smartcard users can view their ‘Position Assignments’, including end dates on their Care Identity Service (CIS) profile, by logging into the CIS application.

Example of what this looks like:

Position code Position name Source Org code Start date End date Last modified
123456 FXX12 Pharmacist professional CareID FXX12 01/03/2020 01/03/2025 01/03/2020
654321 Multi-site pharmacist CareID FFFFF 01/12/2022 01/12/2027 01/12/2022
159264 FZZ34 Pharmacist professional CareID FZZ34 01/06/2018 01/06/2023 01/06/2018

Some RAs will notify users ahead of card users positions expiring and the CIS team are investigating whether automated email reminders (for card users with an email connected to their card) could be provided in the future, before a local position expires.

However, we strongly recommend that Smartcard users note local and premises position end dates in their own diary or pharmacy diaries/planners to provide a reminder in advance of these needing to be renewed.

Premises linked to Smartcards

It is important for pharmacy team members who regularly work in the same pharmacy premises to link their Smartcard to their pharmacy premises ODS (Organisation Data Service) code.

Multiple ODS codes can be linked to cards where staff regularly work across multiple pharmacy premises by requesting for the local  RA to update the card.

What are the new Smartcard baseline positions?

There are several new pharmacy positions being added to cards, some of which are to replace pandemic-related positions:

  • National Qualified Pharmacist (Multi-Site)
  • National Trainee Pharmacist (Multi-site)
  • National Qualified Pharmacy Technician (Multi-Site)
  • National Trainee Pharmacy Technician (Multi-site)
  • National Pharmacy Team Member (Qualified or Trainee) (Multi-Site)

NHS England’s Smartcard, EPS and SCR teams worked collaboratively with us to improve the pharmacy Smartcard model and to establish these new baseline positions and the relevant associated card role and activity codes that best facilitate pharmacy team use of NHS IT systems.

Other changes to the Smartcard model

SCR CPPE training: Pharmacy professional access to SCR (National Care Record Service) has become a business as usual process, so it has been agreed that there is no longer a mandatory requirement for users to have completed the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) SCR training to receive SCR rights onto their Smartcard.

Data quality: From time to time, NHS England may run data quality exercises on the data held in the Care Identity Service (CIS). This could impact some users’ access to the ‘FFFFF’ position based on their activity history e.g. removal of unused ‘FFFFF’ position roles. ‘FFFFF’ positions can also be added to Smartcards by local RAs.

Care Identity Service 2: The NHS Care Identity Service 2 (CIS2) programme has the potential to allow PMR and IT suppliers to enable improved authentication mechanisms, so pharmacy staff don’t need to use Smartcards. CIS2 could also aid potential use of Smartcards without a Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) connection at the pharmacy.

We will continue to encourage pharmacy IT suppliers to explore the benefits of using CIS2 to improve the user experience of pharmacy team members.

RA processes for granting cards and rights: Some additional standardisation for RA’s local processes for granting Smartcard and Smartcard rights has been introduced (more information on this can be found in the following briefing).

Find out more

Read our updated Smartcard Role and Activity codes briefing

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