The NHS National Network (N3) is the online network which connects all NHS organisations and more than a million NHS employees in England.

Infrastructure was re-procured under the project name N3. Back in 2004, BT were awarded the N3 Contract, to provide and maintain a network that links all NHS organisations in England.

The N3 contract ends in 2017, and the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) programme has been established to succeed N3.

Connection options

There are 3 main ways to connect:

  1. connecting as part of a system supplier package;
  2. arranging a connection with a commercial network provider; or
  3. a direct connection to N3.


Unlike NHSnet, N3 is an open network with more flexible ways to connect.

To ensure that the connection is secure for sending and receiving electronic prescription messages, the network connection must be of a type approved by the NHS Digital.

Pharmacy system suppliers offerings

A number of the pharmacy system suppliers offer ‘all in one packages’ which include system upgrades and connectivity. Contractors should contact system suppliers directly for more information on the packages being offered. Further information can also be found below.

Click on a heading below for more information.

Indirect Connection: Connection as Part of a System Supplier Package

Pharmacy contractors can enter into a contractual agreement with an approved network provider to purchase an indirect connection independent of the pharmacy system.

Companies offering secure managed network solutions to community pharmacy can be found below. Contractors wishing to contract directly with a network provider should check with their system supplier to ensure the connectivity option is compatible with the pharmacy system and appropriate for operating the EPS.

Supplier Product Contact Details
InTechnology plc InTechnology N3 ConnectInTechnology provide a secure and reliable high-bandwidth connection to NHS’ N3. The solution is being targeted at organisations servicing multiple care providers at a nationwide level.

InTechnology plcCentral House, Beckwith Knowle, Harrogate, HG3 1UGT. +44 (0)800 983 2522F. +44 (0)1423 850001

E-mail: n3product@intechnology.com

Web: http://www.intechnology.com/

Contact: Sean Paxton, Product Development Manager Tony Sharp, Product Manager

IMS SecurnetSecurnet is a secure and reliable high-bandwidth connection to N3 designed for community pharmacy and other healthcare contractors.

Securnet admin team

Tel: +44 (0) 203 075 4555

E-mail: securnet@uk.imshealth.com

Daisy Group PLC  

Tel: 08000 317 317

Web: http://www.daisygroupplc.com/


OCSL, East House, New Pound Common, Wisborough Green, West Sussex, RH14 0AZ

Contact: Ross Holliday, Head of Public Sector

E-mail: ross.holliday@ocsl.co.uk
Tel: 0845 6052100
Web: http://www.ocsl.co.uk/

If you are supplying an aggregator solution to the pharmacy market in England, please email info@psnc.org.uk to have your contact details added to this section of the site.

Direct connection: Connection via a commercial network provider

Although community pharmacies have the option of connecting directly to N3 this is not likely to be the most effective option for independent contractors or small chains. To connect directly, contractors are required to be sponsored, in most cases by the local NHS England team.

A number of the larger chains have chosen to connect their corporate networks directly to N3.

Selecting an N3 connection

Talk to you supplier about broadband options available to connect to EPS. There is a need to ensure the connectivity option is compatible with the pharmacy system and appropriate for operating the EPS.

Points to consider when selecting/negotiating a connectivity solution include:

  • Service Levels: What are the service levels and performance being offered by the supplier?
  • Failures/Compensation: What happens if something goes wrong? Can compensation be claimed if connectivity fails and this impacts on the operation of the pharmacy?
  • Installation & Coordination with EPS: What are the arrangements for installing connectivity and can this be co-ordinated with the installation of the pharmacy system upgrades necessary to enable EPS?
  • Extra Benefits: Will the supplier offer any added benefits with the connectivity solution?
  • Compatibility with system: Will the connectivity option be compatible with your pharmacy system? (system suppliers will be able to advise you of what is possible with their system)
  • Contract Length: How long will the contract for connectivity be for? Different suppliers are offering contracts which last for different lengths of time, for example, from one to three years?
  • Contract Flexibility: How flexible is the contract? for example can I change my speed of connection without charge at a later date?

The N3 contract expiry / HSCN

The N3 contract ends in 2017, and the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) programme has been established to succeed N3.

NHS Digital say that during the 2016-2017 transition, live N3 services will continue whilst replacement HSCN services are established.

The future: The Health and Social Care Network (HSCN)

During spring 2015, NHS Digital consulted pharmacy N3 users, system suppliers, and stakeholder, about the phased transition from N3 to HSCN. 

For further information about the programme, you can visit the website,  sign up to the HSCN e-bulletin. Alternatively, contact the NHS Digital HSCN team at hscn@hscic.gov.uk.

Related resources

  • N3 Website (NB: this website is targeted at the NHS in general and includes information which may not be relevant for community pharmacies)

For more on preparing/enhancing EPS use the buttons below:

eps arrow green-previous eps box green- home eps box green- preparing EPS eps arrow green-next

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