You are viewing an archive version of the PSNC website taken on 18th April 2013. This site is not updated, and may be out of date or relate to old NHS structures.
For updated and current information, please visit our new website at
Skip Navigation
PSNC Home Page
Advanced Search

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

CIP Overview

NHS Prescription Services have introduced new technology, increasing the level of automation in the pricing system. The new process, commonly referred to as the Capacity Improvement Programme (CIP) forms part of NHS plans to efficiently manage payments to contractors as the number of NHS prescriptions issued grows ever higher. The  system also delivers the functionality to pay contractors for prescriptions dispensed within the Electronic Prescription Service.

The CIP system uses high-speed scanning equipment and intelligent character recognition software to support the capture of printed information from prescription forms. This supplements the input of information manually by NHS Prescription Services operators and once information is captured it is processed by an automated ‘rules engine' to determine the payment due to contractors. The  technology ensures the capacity of NHS Prescription Services to price contractor's prescriptions quickly and accurately.

A summary of the key steps in the pricing process are outlined below:

Batch Preparation

Bundles received by NHS Prescription Services must first be prepared for the scanning process. The FP34C submission document outlines the sorting requirements on page 2. Prescriptions should be sorted into four bundles:

  • exempt prescriptions;
  • chargeable prescriptions;
  • exempt prescriptions with broken bulk claims, special unlicensed products and items with a value of £100 and over;
  • chargeable prescriptions with broken bulk, special unlicensed products and items with a value of £100 and over.

The general exempt and chargeable prescriptions should be arranged in order of prescriber by grouping prescriptions for a prescriber with more than 20 prescriptions together. There is no need to separate each prescriber's prescriptions with elastic band, bags or paper bands. The order in which these prescriber's prescriptions appear in the bundle does not have to be alphabetical. If any prescriber who has less than 20 prescriptions these can be placed in a miscellaneous section at the end of each group. There is no need to sort the prescriptions within the red separators in prescriber order. See the PSNC Sorting Tips for more information.

Once a bundle is received, NHS Prescription Services staff must make sure all clips, staples and sticky labels have been removed as they can jam or damage the scanning equipment. Separated prescriptions go through an additional checking process to capture additional information required for pricing and to ensure the accuracy of the processing system.

Prescription Information Data Capture

The scanning system is only used to support the capture of data from the prescription, for example the prescriber ID, prescription form type and details of the prescribed items. If the scanning process cannot determine this information with confidence, for example if the prescription is handwritten, then the prescription will be referred to a Type 1 Exception Handler who will enter the prescription details manually.


At this stage if the system flags that a prescription may have been submitted in the incorrect charge group, it will be referred to a Type 1 Exception Handler for verification of whether the form was in fact submitted incorrectly or not. If it was submitted incorrectly then it will be switched. No forms are switched automatically by the system; they are only switched once verified by a trained member of staff. Further guidance on switching is available on the main prescription switching page.

Exception Process

Prescriptions which cannot be priced automatically using the system will be sent for manual checking by a Type 2 Exception Handler. They will manually capture dispensing endorsements where these are required for NHS Prescription Services to price the prescription. For example, if a product has been granted the NCSO Concession, all prescriptions received for that product will be filtered by the system to a Type 2 Exception Handler so that the endorsement information can be manually input into the system.

Type 2 Exception Handlers also input information linked to the broken bulk concession, calendar packs where the exact quantity has been dispensed and this is different from the nearest pack or sub-pack, FP10MDA Instalment Dispensing prescriptions, prescriptions for products with multiple pack sizes where the pack size is required to price the prescriptions and prescriptions where a particular fee is being claimed for example for ‘measuring and fitting' hosiery and more.

At this stage, items which still cannot be priced due to a lack of information must be referred back to the contractor for clarification. Payment will only be delayed for the item for which the clarification is required, and not for any other items which appear on the same prescription form.

Payment Calculation

Once the data on the prescription forms has been confirmed, they will be processed automatically via an inbuilt ‘rules engine'. This system will automatically apply the Drug Tariff rules for the month for which the prescriptions were submitted.

The total payment due for items dispensed will be calculated from the automatically captured data and the manually captured data. Any final adjustments are made and the contractor's final payment is calculated.

Customer Support

NHS Prescription Services have established a centralised customer support office at their Newcastle processing site who are responsible for answering a range of queries, such as  payment issues, whether a product is allowed on prescription and more. They can also escalate queries onto specialised departments within NHS Prescription Services if it is required. The helpdesk can be contacted on 0300 330 1349.

Support is also available from the PSNC Information Team.

Watch the Video

NHS Prescription Services have worked with PSNC to publish a new video guide to the new processing technology. The video takes contractors through the pricing process, from the receipt of prescription batches at NHS Prescription Services, to batch preparation, scanning, and the data capture mechanism. The video also explains the exception process, whereby staff manually capture information from dispensing endorsements. The guide can be viewed online on the PSNC website

Back to the Main CIP Section 

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