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EPS in integrated urgent care - information for providers (detailed set up information)

If you're a provider of an integrated urgent care setting, find out about the business process, recommendations for smartcard role profiles, business continuity, communicating with patients, and some FAQs you may receive.

You may also find the information for prescribers page useful which includes details of the prescribing process and prescription cancellation.


Prescribers expected to use EPS in integrated urgent care settings will need to use a valid individual smartcard with an appropriate role profile that includes EPS access rights. If you need your administration staff to be involved in cancelling prescriptions, you will need to make sure they are given the appropriate access and roles. 

Administration staff who need to be involved in cancelling prescriptions should be given the Admin/Clinical support role on their smartcard (see below).

The following roles should be assigned to the smartcard profiles of colleagues who hold the appropriate qualification and authorisation. 

RBAC role Baseline EPS-related activities
R8000 Clinical practitioner access role  BO420 Independent prescribing
B0278 Perform prescription preparation
B0468 Cancel prescription
B0401 View patient medication
R8001 Nurse access role 
R8003 Health professional access role
(qualified prescriber
B0420 Independent prescribing
B0278 Perform prescription preparation
B0468 Cancel prescription
B0401 View patient medication
R8008 Admin/Clinical support or R8001 and R8003 non-prescriber (if required) B0278 Perform prescription preparation (gives access to the tracker) 
B0468 Cancel prescription

If EPS is being used for care settings other than in urgent care, full guidance is available.


Before prescribers can access EPS in urgent care, they must complete an e-learning module.

The e-learning takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. It is interactive and will require prescribers to click on different parts of the screen. It is best for prescribers to complete this training before using the live system. They can revisit it at any time for a refresher if required.

Instructions on how to access and complete the e-learning will be sent to you.

Prescriber system set-up

The professional registration details of each independent prescriber will need to be set up in the prescribing system in order to populate the required 'Author' details in the EPS messages.

Doctors - General Medical Council (GMC) code
Nurses - Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code
Pharmacists - General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) code

The PPA ID or prescribing code is required in the 'Responsible party' area of the EPS message. For medical prescribers, this is their DIN or spurious code. For non-medical prescribers, this is their GPhC or NMC professional code. These prescribers must be notified to the NHSBSA by the authorised signatory at the commissioning or provider organisation.

Medical prescribers need to notify the NHSBSA if they are using their DIN or their own spurious code. A 'cost centre' may have one 'generic' spurious code that all medical prescribers (doctors) use. If a new prescriber joins a service, and is using the generic spurious code, the NHSBSA do not need to be notified.

Business continuity plans

We recommend that you:

  • review and update your business continuity plans
  • ensure you are equipped to use faxing prescriptions as your fall-back process should EPS be unavailable
  • ensure your prescription printers remain in situ and are checked to be working regularly
  • keep a sufficient supply of FP10 stationery at all times
  • ensure all staff are familiar with business continuity plans
  • sign up for EPS service alerts which will keep you up to date on any national system issues

In the event of a system crash during the prescribing process, prescribers may wish to check if their last issued prescription has been sent to the Spine. The EPS Prescription Tracker can be used to confirm whether it has been issued and will avoid the risk of a duplicate prescription.

The following contingency tools will support business continuity and appropriate staff should therefore familiarise themselves with their use.

NHS Digital EPS / IT service status webpage (N3/Smartcard required) - this provides a real-time indication of the status of key national NHS IT services.  Your system supplier should inform NHS Digital if they are experiencing significant issues. 

EPS Prescription Tracker business continuity (BC) mode  (N3/Smartcard required) - dispensers can now view prescriptions, including the patient and medication details and the GP practice, via the EPS Prescription Tracker business continuity mode. This is intended to help pharmacy teams to make decisions about what they can do to support patients that need their medicines.

Summary care record (SCR) - SCR holds demographic details about the patient, medication information (current repeat medication, acute medication and recently discontinued medicines), allergies and any adverse reactions. SCR can support decision-making during an outage situation.

NHS Digital service alerts  (Smartcard required) - Smartcard users can sign-up to receive service alerts by email or SMS for all or individual NHS Digital Services. Alerts can give an indication of the severity or expected duration of an issue. You should select that you wish to be notified in relation to:  EPS, N3/HSCN, Authentication, Smartcard Care Identity Service (CIS), Patient Demographic Services (PDS) which impacts access to patient details, Spine Messaging Services, and Spine Alerting.

Explaining EPS in urgent care to patients

As a provider you should consider what you need to communicate to patients who contact your service, particularly in relation to how their data will be used. You should also consider any impact on your existing materials such as interactive voice response messages.  

Changes to data protection legislation, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from 25 May 2018, puts strict restrictions on the transfer of personal data. The Information Commissioner's Office regularly updates its GDPR guidance.

Common questions you may be asked

There may be queries from prescribers and dispensers received as part of the process of requesting an urgent prescription.

Prescriptions cannot be located on the dispensing system

Option 1

If a patient has the prescription ID, this can be used to manually retrieve the prescription.

Option 2

If the patient does not have the prescription ID, the EPS Prescription Tracker can be used to obtain it. The tracker can be searched using the patient's NHS number and will provide the prescription ID, along with details of its history and status.

Incorrect or missing pharmacy information in the pharmacy search screen

Pharmacy search results are taken from the Directory of Service (DoS). Although dispensers have been asked to review their DoS entries, some information may still be incorrect. If you identify any incorrect information, please raise with your local DoS leads.

Prescription is at an alternative pharmacy to the one the patient has presented at

The pharmacy the patient has presented at should contact the pharmacy their prescription has been sent to and request they return it to the Spine. The pharmacy can then manually download the returned prescription using the prescription ID.

Patient presents at the dispenser and the item is unavailable

The pharmacy should support the patient to locate another pharmacy that has the medicine in stock. A dispensing token should be provided to the patient and the prescription returned to the Spine. If there is a national shortage, or item is no longer available, the pharmacy should contact the prescriber for a replacement prescription using the service's contact details.

Replacement item required

The pharmacy should contact the issuing service to request a replacement.

Pharmacy not visible in search

If a specific pharmacy is being searched for, but it is closed at the time of the search, it will not appear in the default postcode and opening time search. Instead, search by name and postcode.
If the pharmacy still does not appear when using name and postcode search, then there may be a data issue in the Directory of Service and you should raise this via your local DoS lead.

Circumstances where EPS cannot be used

EPS cannot be used when:

  • the patient demographics in the local record have not been updated to match the details held on the Spine
  • the medication prescribed is not listed in the dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d)
  • the prescriber has logged on without their smartcard
  • The prescriber smartcard in use has insufficient roles

Complaints and concerns

If the issuing service wishes to raise a concern regarding a community pharmacy, these should be addressed to the NHS England Regional Pharmacy Contract Managers.

Last edited: 1 September 2020 1:18 pm