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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

IT/EPS Allowances

The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) is being deployed in phases ( Release 1 and Release 2). Detailed information on EPS is available in the EPS Section of this website.

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 EPS Release 1 Allowance: All contractors received £2600 in 2005/06 linked to deploying Release 1 of the Electronic Prescription Service. Contractors who opened new premises (other than a minor relocation) after December 2005 and who did not receive the allowance when it was initially paid-out were able to claim the allowance up until 31st July 2009.

EPS Release 2 Allowance: A further allowance of £1000 is being paid linked to a pharmacy deploying EPS Release 2. Payment is automatically triggered, when a pharmacy submits a synthetic reimbursement message to NHS Prescription Services. There is no need to complete a claim form and the NHS England Area Team do not need to authorise the payment. A contractor will be given a barcode of a digitally signed test prescription during deployment of Release 2 in the pharmacy. When the contractor sends the test electronic reimbursement message to the spine, this will trigger both the Release 2 £1000 allowance and a contractor being classified as enabled for nomination (i.e. information being fed to NHS Choices that the contractor is enabled). Confirmation of payment will appear on a contractor’s schedule of payments.

At a later date, once more information is known about the likely timescale for deploying EPS Release 2, a deadline will be set for claiming this allowance.

Monthly Allowance: When a pharmacy contractor is able to operate the Electronic Prescription Service if an appropriate prescription is presented or requested, the pharmacy can claim £200/month from the NHS England Area Team using the appropriate claim form. If a contractor has submitted the relevant claim form to the NHS England Area Team by the end of the first month that he is able to operate the service, he is eligible to receive the monthly allowance for that month and subsequent months. If at a later date the pharmacy contractor becomes unable to operate the Electronic Prescription Service, they must inform the NHS England Area Team in writing immediately so that payment of this ongoing allowance is stopped.

A copy of the ETP Monthly Allowance claim form in both Microsoft Word and PDF Format can be downloaded from the Publications Section of the PSNC Website.

If a contractor becomes unable to operate the Electronic Prescription Service, they are required to alert their NHS England Area Team in writing so that payment of the ongoing allowance can be stopped. A template letter for this purpose is available to download in the Publications Section of the PSNC Website.

Monthly Allowance claim form

Click on the link below to download the form required to claim the monthly allowance and a template letter to notify NHS England if the pharmacy ceases to be in a position to operate the service:

Monthly Allowance Claim Form (External Link)

Template letter: Ceasing operation of the service (Word)

Additional Funding linked to EPS: In late 2009, PSNC published an update on funding discussions with DH on EPS. There are three key cost areas that need to be reflected in funding for contractors:

  • The impact of introducing a new service, for example the costs of setting up new processes, engaging in training and obtaining smartcards;
  • The impact of dual running: DH acknowledged that running both paper and electronic systems would involve more work;
  • The cost implications of the permanent impact that introducing new work processes may have.

As part of the 2009-10 funding settlement. the Department of Health agreed to make provision against the excess margin over the £500m, for a number of one-off costs pharmacy contractors are facing, including preparing for EPS2.

A decision on any cost/saving implications of EPS on an ongoing basis cannot be made at this very early stage of Release 2 implementation as there needs to be a period for widespread bedding in, for contractors to make changes to their processes so as to maximise the efficiencies in running the service. There may also be increased ongoing costs linked to connectivity and maintaining PMR systems. The Department have confirmed that the time, efficiency and cost of pharmaceutical service provision, including the running of EPS, will be accounted for as appropriate.


Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility to receive the allowance

Claiming the monthly allowance

Claiming the R2 one-off allowance

Stopping using the service 


Who is Eligible to Claim?

 
Are low volume pharmacies eligible to receive the EPS Allowances?

Yes. All pharmacies that are part of the national pharmacy contract are eligible to receive the New Contract EPS Allowances.

I'm an LPS Contractor and haven't received my EPS Release 1 allowance?

The EPS/IT Allowances were agreed as part of the funding arrangements for the National NHS Pharmacy Contract. LPS Contracts are locally negotiated and agreed with the NHS England Area Team. LPS Contractors are advised to discuss funding for IT upgrades with their NHS England Area Team.


Claiming the EPS Release 2 Allowance (£1000)

What is the synthetic reimbursement endorsement message that triggers the EPS Release 2 payment?

As a final test for successful deployment of Release 2, an individual dispensing contractor will be given a barcode of a digitally signed test prescription to download and dispense. The contractor will then request and download the digitally signed test prescription from the Spine. The contractor will ‘dispense’ the script, send a notification and a synthetic electronic reimbursement endorsement message to the spine. The spine will then forward the pharmacy’s “synthetic” message to NHS Prescription Service. This will act as the trigger for:

  • the Release 2 £1000 allowance; and
  • a contractor being classified as enabled for nomination (and hence this information being fed through to NHS Choices)

System suppliers will provide pharmacies with the test prescription. Further guidance can be found on the HSCIC website.

If I send the synthetic reimbursement endorsement message to NHS Prescription Services in October, when will I receive reimbursement?

Reimbursement of the EPS Release 2 Allowance is made with the final payment for a prescription month rather than with the 80% advance therefore if the synthetic reimbursement endorsement message was sent to NHS Prescription Services in October, payment should be expected in late December.

The one-off allowance of £1000 will appear under "details of local amounts authorised by PCT" on the FP34 Schedule of Payments. It should indicate that it is an ETP payment. If a contractor is particularly concerned, they can call NHS RxS and ask as it will show against their account if the payment has been made.


Monthly Allowance (£200/month)


Do I need to have received my first electronic prescription message from a prescriber before I can claim the ongoing monthly allowance

No, pharmacy contractors only need to be in a position to use the Electronic Prescription Service if an appropriate prescription is presented or requested. To do this contractors will need to be using an EPS Compliant Pharmacy System with appropriate network connectivity and have staff who are registered users of the system and who have been issued with smart cards and PIN numbers.

Do I need to ensure all of my staff are trained to use the system before claiming payment?

Although there is no specific requirement in the Drug Tariff for staff to have undergone training to use the system, the pharmacy must be in a position to operate the service if an appropriate prescription is presented or requested.

It is worth noting that this does not mean that every staff member in the pharmacy must be able to use the system, only that the system can be used by someone if required.

I have a compliant system and connectivity but my local Registration Authority has still not issued me with a smart card. Can I claim the ongoing allowance?

In previous guidance to PCTs, the Department of Health have advised that, 'If a contractor has approached a PCT or their Registration Authority for a PIN and smartcard and the PCT or Registration Authority has not provided them within a reasonable timeframe, it may be considered appropriate if the Contractor fulfils the other criteria laid out in Part VIA of the Drug Tariff to being able to operate Release 1 of EPS for the contractor to claim and receive the monthly allowance.

In this scenario, contractors are advised to mark clearly on the ETP monthly allowance claim form that they are applying for the ongoing allowance but have not yet received a smartcard because of an unreasonable delay by the local RA.

Do I need to Submit the ETP monthly allowance claim forms  every month?

No, on receiving the ETP monthly allowance claim form, the NHS England Area Team should notify NHS Prescription Services via the Local Payments System, under the ‘ETP Payment’ category to make the monthly payment. Whilst contractors only need to submit the claim form to the NHS England Area Team once, the NHS England Area Team will need to continue authorisation on a monthly basis.

If at a later date, the pharmacy contractor becomes unable to operate the EPS (subject to any exception provided for in Part VIA) the contractor must inform the NHS England Area Team in writing immediately. In this instance, the NHS England Area Team will not authorise NHS Prescription Services to make the monthly allowance. NHS Prescription Services will only pay the monthly allowance if authorised by the PCT via the local payment system.

I started to receive the monthly EPS Allowance a number of months ago but this month the allowance was not listed on my Schedule of Payments. What should I do?

Contractors only need to submit the claim form to the NHS England Area Team once, the NHS England Area Team needs to instruct NHS Prescription Services to make payment on a monthly basis. If a payment hasn't been received, the first port of call should be the NHS England Area Team to find out if they authorised payment.

It would be helpful if problems can also be reported to PSNC so that any problems being experienced by contractors can be monitored.

I work for the head office of a multiple pharmacy group. Does each pharmacy have to make the claim for the monthly allowance individually or can I administer this centrally?

Staff working in the Head Office of a multiple pharmacy chain can submit a claim to the appropriate NHS England Area Team on behalf of a pharmacy in the area.

My NHS England Area Team has told me that they will only initiate payment of the EPS monthly allowance if I scan a test prescription and return a copy of the printed label. Do I have to?

If the NHS England Area Team has concerns about a contractor’s ability to operate EPS, they have been advised by the Department of Health to follow due process to check the Contractor’s ability to operate the service, for example visiting the pharmacy. The Department of Health have also emphasised the need to ensure that there is not delayed payment to pharmacies. 

My NHS England Area Team has sent me a different Form to the ETP monthly allowance claim form to complete to claim the ongoing IT Allowance. Can NHS England Area Teams design their own form?

No, the requirement for the payment of the on-going IT payment is set out in the Drug Tariff Part VIA and states that the form ' ETP Monthly Allowance Claim Form' must be sent to the NHS England Area Team. The form 'Monthly Allowance Claim Form' is a national form and has a 'gateway' reference. Therefore, our view is that the NHS England Area Team is not at liberty to amend the form.

Can my NHS England Area Team withhold payment of the ETP monthly Allowance?

The Department of Health has previously advised that "If the PCT receives a claim form from a Contractor but has concerns about a contractor’s ability to operate Release 1 of EPS it should follow due process to check the Contractor’s ability to operate the service.

If on following due process the PCT has evidence that a contractor is not in a position to operate Release 1 of EPS, the PCT can withhold payment and not authorise the PPD to make the monthly payment. However, PCTs would be advised to notify a contractor in writing that payment is being withheld and highlight why. Alternatively, in some circumstances, it may be appropriate before withholding payment to allow the contractor the opportunity rectify the position and withhold payment if the position is not rectified within a reasonable, specified timeframe. "

Can my NHS England Area Team withhold payment if on a particular day, the locum in the pharmacy does not have a smartcard?

The Department has previously advised PCTs that 'it may be considered unreasonable of a PCT to withhold payment during the course of deployment of Release 1 because a contractor is unable to operate Release 1 of EPS while a locum without a smartcard is on duty for a day or two a week.

However the PCT will want to apply a reasonable judgment depending on whether the pharmacy is usually staffed by a pharmacist(s) with a smartcard(s) or pharmacist(s) without smartcard(s). '

If payment is being withheld, the DH advised that PCTs should notify a contractor in writing that payment is being withheld and highlight why. Alternatively, in some circumstances, it may be appropriate before withholding payment to allow the contractor the opportunity rectify the position and withhold payment if the position is not rectified within a reasonable, specified timeframe.

I am in a position to use the EPS however I am not using the service routinely to dispense barcoded prescriptions, can the NHS England Area Team suspend my £200/month ongoing funding?

No. The Drug Tariff Part VIA is very clear that the pharmacy contractor is entitled to the funding when they are in a position to ‘operate the EPS if an appropriate prescription is presented or requested’. At this stage, there is no requirement to use the service to dispense all barcoded prescriptions received.

 


Stopping using the Service


What happens if I start and then stop using the Electronic Prescription Service - will the ongoing EPS payments stop?

If a pharmacy contractor becomes unable to operate the Electronic Prescription Service, they must inform the NHS England Area Team in writing immediately so that payment of this ongoing allowance is stopped. A template letter for this purpose is available to download in the Forms Section of the PSNC Website.

 


DOWNLOADS: Some documents are available in PDF format, you will require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or later for viewing which can be downloaded from the Adobe Website

DOWNLOADS: Some documents are available in ‘Microsoft Word’ format. If you do not have Microsoft Word, you can read these forms by downloading the free 'Word Viewer'. This program can be downloaded at the Microsoft website