The questions and answers on this page cover areas of Smartcards including migration and access guidance, Smartcard definitions, RA and Sponsors role and responsibilities, the Self Service portal and Smartcard certificates.
The questions and answers are broken up into the following areas:
A) Has the updated registration authority (RA) guidance Smartcard migration of community pharmacy users from EPS Release 1 to Release 2 been issued?
Yes. This guidance has recently been revised and includes information on how to assign the position "Community Locum (short notice) Pharmacist" within the National Locum Pharmacy organisation (FFFFF) when using UIM.
The guidance describes the necessary steps to allocate the initial Registration Authority Agent access profiles required to approve and grant the "Community Locum (short notice) Pharmacist" position and/or the "Community Locum Pharmacist Sponsor" position.
The sponsor position provides more flexibility, particularly for those pharmacies where pharmacists may need to be enabled at short notice out of normal working hours. It is available on the Information on Smartcards section.
B) What resources are available centrally (current system and UIM) to support RA sponsor training?
Online guides and elearning is available on the ETD pages of the NHS CFH website.
The latest RA guidance Smartcard migration of community pharmacy users from EPS Release 1 to Release 2 (PDF 356Kb) is also available.
C) What can be done nationally/locally to facilitate greater standardisation of Smartcard roll out arrangements in England?
The central policy requirements are clearly defined along with national development of implementation materials to assist local organisations.
D) Can the national RA programme send out best practice guidelines stipulating that pharmacies and GP practices should keep a spare Smartcard on the premises locked away for business continuity purposes?
For information governance reasons this practice is not supported. The national guidance sets out how these issues should be addressed, for example the issue of fall back Smartcards.
A) Can pharmacists access the portal to unlock and renew Smartcard certificates?
Yes. The Smartcard Service Centre (SCSC) can be accessed via the N3 network. This can be used to unlock and renew Smartcard certificates.
B) Will the Self Service Portal negate the need for each PCT to run an "out of hours" service to unlock Smartcards and/or reset passcodes?
Yes. The self service portal enables users to reset Smartcard passcodes and renew certificates at any time convenient to them. A guide to using the self service portal is available on the Infomation on Smartcards section.
C) Can Smartcards be physically unlocked at a community pharmacy (assuming a second card reader and appropriate Smartcard are available)?
Yes. This can either be done by a sponsor or by the individual using the self service portal. The latter is the preferred method. The guidance does not recommend having someone set up as a sponsor at each pharmacy for this purpose.
D) What are Smarcard certificates and what does Identity Agent do?
Identity Agent is a computer program that checks that the Smartcard user has the authority to connect to the Spine and informs the prescribing or dispensing system of the activities the user has been sponsored to carry out.
The prescribing or dispensing system then uses this information to allow the user to carry out those tasks. For security reasons Smartcards have electronic certificates that validate them for two years. These certificates should be renewed before they expire.
Where Identity Agent version 11 or later has been installed on your computer (use the "Add or Remove Programs" option within Windows Control Panel to look for "NHS Identity Agent vX" in the list of programs where X will be the version) a pop up box will appear to warn you that your Smartcard certificates will expire, 30 days before their expiry date.
GP practices that have not already deployed Identity Agent version 11 to their computers should refer to their Registration Authority. Dispensing contractors can ask their system supplier for information on upgrading their system to use Identity Agent version 11.
You may renew your Smartcard certificates online up to three months before they expire. To do this, go to the 'Renew Certificates' tab on the Self Service Portal at https://portal.national.ncrs.nhs.uk this link is available to pharmacists on the N3 network.
If you allow the electronic certificates that validate your Smartcard to expire you will no longer be able to log in and access EPS and a Smartcard login failure notice will appear on your screen. You will then need to contact the Registration Authority lead at your PCT to arrange a face to face visit at the PCT to upgrade your card.
A) What is a Self Service Fallback Smartcard and when should one be used?
This is appropriate where a user has an access profile relating to the role they need to undertake and where the user's Smartcard has been forgotten, lost, stolen, or broken. It enables a user to associate their current user role profile (URP) with a blank Fallback Smartcard.
Where the user has lost their Smartcard the functionality will automatically cancel the original Smartcard so preventing improper use if found by someone other than the user.
Where the user has forgotten their Smartcard the functionality will suspend the original Smartcard for the duration of the Self Service Fallback issuance or 12 hours, whichever is longer.
A Self Service Fallback Smartcard is created by RA managers on receipt of a RA09 form from a sponsor or custodian (a clinician or manager responsible for a particular area). A user who needs to use the Self Service Fallback Smartcard obtains the card from the sponsor or custodian and then registers the card using the Smartcard Service Centre.
When returning the Smartcard the user must return to the Smartcard Service Centre to un-assign the Smartcard and then hand it to the sponsor or custodian, within the 12 hour period allocated.
More information on Self Service Fallback Smartcards can be found in the Smartcard guidance section of the website under Arrangements for temporary access to NHS CRS applications.
B) What is a Short-term Access Smartcard and when should one be used?
This is appropriate when:
- the location/role change or temporary/locum member of staff are arranged at short notice
- where their identity or UUID is unknown until they arrive
- they arrive when there are no RA staff available
- where approve and grant access rights cannot be given at that point in time.
- Self Service Fallback Smartcards are unavailable either due to availability of a custodian at the location or where the user does not have an NHS email account(@nhs.net) or mobile phone number recorded in the Spine User Directory
- the user doesn't know his/her account recovery Passcode
- digital signing is required.
A Short-term Access Smartcard is created by a sponsor in the same was as a standard Smartcard via an RA01 form. To obtain the card a user must meet with the sponsor and assure them that of their identity.
The card should be returned to a sponsor within the time frame allocated (no greater than 12 hours from the time of issue. The sponsor is then responsible for locking the Smartcard.
More information on Short-term Access Smartcards can be found in the Smartcard guidance section of the website under Arrangements for temporary access to NHS CRS applications.
C) What is a Premises Smartcard and when should one be used?
Premises cards are introduced at the transition from EPS Release 1 to EPS Release 2, when some sites are still using EPS Release 1 and other sites have upgraded to EPS Release 2. This will enable the continued use of Release 1 functionality at a site where the Smartcard of the pharmacist has been migrated to RA01 terms and conditions.
Migration of community pharmacy users from EPS Release 1 to Release 2 PDF (356Kb).
D) Is there a business continuity model for pharmacies to cover extended hours?
Local RA processes apply; there is no specific nationally prescribed business continuity model for RAs in this regard.
E) Is there a business continuity model if a Smartcard corrupts?
Local RA processes apply. For example, during RA working hours a new Smartcard could be obtained from the RA or, out of RA working hours a Self Service Fallback Smartcard could be used.
F) What is the impact on EPS of a new Organisational Data Service (ODS) code for a pharmacy (e.g. through certain changes of ownership)?
If a pharmacy organisation ODS code changes then two actions must be completed:
- The new ODS must be configured within the pharmacy EPS system. This can normally be completed by a local system administrator, otherwise contact the pharmacy system supplier.
- The second action is for NHS Smartcard users within the pharmacy to have their User Role Profile migrated to the new ODS code. To facilitate this, the organisation should contact the Exeter Helpdesk (email@example.com) making the call for the attention of the NHS Reconfiguration Team.
Once operational using the new ODS code, the organisation should contact the local Registration Authority to close the User Role Profiles held against the old ODS code.
A) Can a Release 2 Smartcard issued by one PCT be used in a pharmacy in a different PCT?
Yes, provided the user has a relevant User Role Profile for the dispensing organisation within the different PCT.
B) Which EPS functions will prompt the system to look for a valid Smartcard?
The EPS Release 2 functions that a Smartcard will be required for are:
- Set, change or delete a patient's nominated pharmacy
- Download electronic prescriptions from the spine
- Return electronic prescriptions to the spine
- Confirm an electronic prescription has been dispensed
- Submit an electronic prescription to NHS Prescription Services (NHSPS/PPA/PPD) for payment.
C) Will a Release 2 RA01 Smartcard work on a Release 1 system?
No. The only way Release 1 bar-coded prescriptions can be downloaded on a Release 1 pharmacy system is to use a Release 1 EPS01 Smartcard (either a premises card or individual Smartcard).
D) Will a Release 1 EPS01 Smartcard work on a Release 2 system?
Yes. A Release 1 EPS01 Smartcard would be able provide Release 1 functionality on a Release 2 system however the only way to access EPS Release 2 electronic prescriptions on a Release 2 system is to use a Release 2 RA01 Smartcard.
The National Registration Authority has advised all PCTs that "Premises cards" should be issued as soon as possible to ensure business continuity and access to their EPS Release 1 system throughout the nationwide transition to EPS Release 2. The premises card is being introduced at the transition when some sites are still using EPS Release 1 and other sites have upgraded to EPS Release 2. The intention is to enable the continued use of Release 1 functionality at a site where the Smartcard of the pharmacist has been migrated to RA01 terms and conditions.
E) Is the code B0825 Amend Patient Demographics required to change a patient's nominated pharmacy?
Yes. The code B0825 is generally within the baseline of all relevant roles, specifically:
- R8003 Health Professional Access Role
- R8001 Nurse Access Role
- R8000 Clinical Practitioner Access Role.
This is clarified in the latest RA guidance Smartcard migration of community pharmacy users from EPS Release 1 to Release 2 (PDF 356Kb).
F) The previous guidance "Migration of community users from EPS Release 1 to EPS Release 2" lays out the following role based access requirements;
- R8003 & T2200 - Community Pharmacist
- R8004 & T2200 plus B0572 if required - Pre-registration Pharmacist
- R8008 & T2200 - Community Pharmacy Dispensing Technician and Community Pharmacy Medical Counter Assistant
Will particular roles/areas of work/additional activity combinations determine which of the functions will be available to the holder of the Smartcard? And if so what are these combinations?
This information is covered in the updated RA guidance Smartcard migration of community pharmacy users from EPS Release 1 to Release 2 (PDF 356Kb).
G) To be able to use EPS Release 2 in the pharmacy and get a Release 2 Smartcard do I need to complete the Information Governance Toolkit?
No. There is no requirement for pharmacies to complete the Information Governance Toolkit (IGT) before staff can be issued with EPS Release 2 Smartcards and begin to use EPS Release 2 in the pharmacy.
However, community pharmacy contractors will be aware that they are expected to attain Level 2 against the pharmacy IGT requirements by 31 March 2011, after having completed a baseline assessment earlier this year.
The IGT requirement "Monitoring and enforcement processes are in place to ensure NHS national application Smartcard users comply with the terms and conditions of use" relates to the ongoing use of Smartcards and it does not have to be met as a prerequisite to a Release 2 Smartcard being issued.
A) In Release 2, staff other than Pharmacists will require Smartcards. The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has recommended a representative from each pharmacy should be appointed who can sponsor applications themselves. Is this approach in line with national guidance?
This is within the policy framework if agreed locally and would streamline business processes for PCTs.
B) What are the specific roles of a sponsor? What are they responsible for and what are they accountable for?
The sponsor's role is to approve an individual's request for a particular set of access rights and/or role based access control, expressed as appropriate R and B codes. Sponsors cannot grant those same rights to themselves as role separation is a fundamental governance check.
Sponsors are identified by the PCT Registration Authority. Registration Authority Managers have been advised to consult with local pharmacy representatives to propose individuals who could act as sponsors, for example PCT pharmacy advisors, pharmacy managers etc. A key consideration is the accessibility of sponsors to ensure there are not delays in the Smartcard registration process.
Where the Registration Authority has migrated to the new User Identity Manager (UIM) software, the role of the sponsor is different. UIM assumes that access rights are associated with positions or posts rather than with individuals. Appropriate access rights are approved for a post, e.g. pharmacy technician, as a one-off exercise.
There after sponsors approve particular individuals to be assigned to those positions and the previously granted access rights are automatically picked up.
This offers opportunity to link access controls to HR processes leading to streamlining and improved governance. In UIM sponsors can also be set up to unlock Smartcards for example.