Allocation of ODS codes

Allocation of ODS codes

This webpage outlines information for pharmacy contractors about ODS (F) codes and those actions required if your ODS (F) code needs to change to minimise disruption for your pharmacy IT/EPS.

What is an ODS (F) code?

The pharmacy ODS code (previously known as the OCS or NACS code and commonly known as the F code) is a pharmacy’s unique identifying code which appears at the top of the schedule of payments document that is received from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) each month. The ‘Organisation Data Service’ code is used to support national NHS IT systems.

What could be affected by a change of ODS code?

If the ODS code is changed or deactivated, the following are affected:

•NHSBSA payments to the contractor;
•connectivity to NHS Services, for example, the pharmacy’s ability to use the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS);
•EPS Patient Nomination settings and the electronic Repeat Dispensing Service (eRD) cycle;
•NHS Smartcards – these will need to be updated by the Registration Authority (RA);
NHS Choices listing of the pharmacy; and
•your pharmacy PMR system.

Planning well in advance of the change, by the contractor and the NHS, is necessary to avoid disruption to patients, services and your payments.

When does a change of ODS code apply or not?

When is a new ODS code required?

A new ODS code should only be requested when:

•a new pharmacy opens;
•there is a change of (legal) ownership, where the contractor buys out a business on a non-debts and liabilities basis (i.e. the outgoing contractor requires payment for all items dispensed up to the date of sale); or
•relocation of the pharmacy (potentially excluding ‘no significant change’ or very-short distance relocation) – an ordinary relocation.

When should an ODS code be retained?

The existing ODS code is retained (i.e. a new ODS code is NOT required) when there is a:

•relocation of the pharmacy (including ‘no significant change’ or very short distance relocation);
•change of (equitable) ownership, where the purchaser (new contractor) buys out the existing (contractor) company including debts, liabilities and/or access to bank account – this may result in a change of company name or trading name;
•contractor changes company name (e.g. from a sole proprietor to a Ltd company);
•remaining contractor in a Regulation 26A consolidation – the remaining contractor may be at the remaining pharmacy or may be the contractor moving premises (whose pharmacy is closing);
•contractor changes trading name or telephone number; or
•contractor’s NHS England local office changes its boundary, resulting in the pharmacy being in a different NHS England area.

When is an ODS code deactivated?

An ODS code ceases to be actively used if:

  • a pharmacy closes and ceases to provide services; or
  • a contractor closes and/or ceases to provide services as part of a Regulation 26A consolidation.

Who may request a new ODS code or deactivate one?

It is for a contractor to inform the NHS England local office of a change and whether a new ODS code is required. NHS England will then inform the Pricing Authority or NHS Digital ODS team who will make the necessary changes.

Practical issues: what you need to consider if your ODS code will change to minimise IT/EPS disruption?

  1. Notifying NHS England and others with plenty of notice (suggested at least one month’s notice to help minimise disruption)

NHS England and others, including your PMR system supplier, benefit from good notice of the date of a change that will necessitate a new ODS code or the deletion of an ODS code to avoid patient inconvenience and IT disruption. It is recommended that you:

  •  Inform the local NHS England team: Try to give the local NHS England team at least one month’s notice of the expected date of a change that will require a new ODS code – a new pharmacy, a change of legal ownership or an ordinary relocation. The local NHS England team will need to inform the NHSBSA in good time for NHSBSA to make the changes. The exact date of change can be notified at a later date if required. Contact details for local NHS England teams are available at:
  • Inform your PMR system supplier: You should inform your system supplier as soon as possible about the change. You may wish to notify by email so that you have an email audit trail. If needed phone as well in reference to the email. As required, notify both the outgoing and incoming system suppliers (if have both); ensure and discuss with your system supplier whether dual running of systems will be possible.
  • System supplier liaises with NHS Digital: Your system supplier contacts NHS Digital to schedule any migration or removal of EPS nominations.

 The parties involved – you as the contractor, your system supplier, NHS England, NHS Digital and the NHSBSA need to be kept informed of relevant dates and developments, as appropriate.

  1. Liaising with NHS England and others: The ODS allocation process

The allocation of an ODS and changes can be made on the requested date if sufficient notice has been provided. It is recommended that you consider:

  • Adjustments to the expected date of the change: Throughout the process, your local NHS England team should be updated on any adjustments to the expected date of the change (e.g. because of a slight delay with a refurbishment), as well as your system supplier.
  • Notification of a new ODS code: You and your system supplier should be notified. NHSBSA add an ODS code to update the NHS Spine pharmacy database (a process that takes at least 10 days) and following this, your system supplier can re-configure the PMR system, as appropriate.
  • New ODS code for system supplier configuration: Once your pharmacy’s future ODS code is listed within the NHS Spine database of pharmacies (step above), then your system supplier can proceed to configure your PMR system. You might ask your system supplier about progress with this process.
  • That your system supplier will need to advise NHS Digital of the date they plan to configure new ODS code use: Your supplier requests that your pharmacy should begin using this new ODS code at the agreed date and time, and that if nomination changes are to be made, these are made at the same time.  
  • System supplier implements the new ODS code: Your system supplier changes your PMR system from the old to the new ODS code on the relevant date. This adjustment allows you to start using the new ODS code.  
  1. Other IT issues to consider
  • EPS Nominations: Nominations are set for patients against a pharmacy’s ODS code, so where there is a new ODS code, these must be migrated manually by NHS Digital. It is vital that you give a month’s notice of the date of the opening, change of ownership or ordinary relocation that will trigger this. It is important to inform patients about changes:
  • where there is a change of ownership, the new contractor must according to the terms of service (i) explain to each patient that the ownership of the pharmacy premises has changed and (ii) ask each patient if he or she wishes to maintain the nomination for the pharmacy premises.
  • where there is an ordinary relocation, contractors might be asked to confirm that patients have been informed and this information might be shared with NHS Digital to request migration of EPS nominations with ordinary relocations.
  • for consolidations, the assurances that patients have been informed may be part of the commencement notice for the consolidated business.

You can check the pharmacy’s total number of nominations prior to the ODS code change by referring to the ‘Nominations by dispenser’ spreadsheet downloadable at the NHS Digital website. Usually your system supplier will liaise with NHS Digital to schedule the migration for an appropriate time, if it has been approved.

  • NHSmail: If your ODS will change, you should contact the NHSmail Pharmacy Admin team who will edit your email address. Your new address will include the new ODS code. Your old email address will be retired but will remain associated with your new account. If another user sends an email to your old emails address it will be re-directed to your new email address indefinitely. (If the ODS code is not changing then the shared NHSmail inbox will continue to be associated with the pharmacy without a need for a change.)
  • Smartcards: The Smartcard Registration Authority (RA) will need to be requested to make the changes. There is no automatic notification to the RA service.
  1. Issues to be resolved immediately before the change:
  • Discuss with your system supplier whether they can disable automatic overnight downloads of prescriptions on the contract end-date.
  • Process any partly dispensed prescriptions – all completed scripts should then be marked with ‘Dispense messages’ and both the Dispense Notification and the Claim message be sent. Ensure that there are no prescriptions which have the dispensed status, but for which you have not sent the claim message.
  • Print tokens for all prescriptions which cannot be completed and claimed prior to the scheduled change. Speak with your system supplier about whether an automated way to do this or not.
  • Process any partly dispensed prescriptions – all completed scripts should then be marked with ‘Dispense messages’ and both the Dispense Notification and the Claim message be sent. Ensure that there are no prescriptions which have had the dispense message sent, but have not had the claim message sent.
  • Return to the Spine all prescriptions which cannot be completed and claimed prior to the scheduled change.
  1. Issues to consider after the change
  • Smartcards: Once all staff members have had their Smartcards amended to reflect the new ODS code, check that they can all log in and use EPS.
  • EPS: It is important to claim a script as soon as possible after your supplier has changed the local configuration to the new ODS code (this happens shortly after NHS Digital migrate the nominations). This will trigger the new ODS code to be flagged as EPS live on the NHSBSA system. This change will occur on the first Wednesday after the claim, and NHS Choices will be updated, with the ODS code show as EPS live the Monday following – please note this time lag. If you believe the new ODS code is not yet appearing correctly on NHS Choices after this time lag, contact your system supplier who will escalate this issue to NHS Digital as necessary.
  • eRD – Electronic Repeat Dispensing: Check that the electronic repeat dispensing prescription schedule has been restored correctly.
  • EPS Nominations: The system supplier should confirm to you once all of the nominations have been transferred across. If necessary, you can check that these are as expected. You can check the pharmacy’s total number of nominations after the ODS code change by referring to the ‘Nominations by dispenser’ spreadsheet at the NHS Digital website – await upload of data from the relevant period noting that there is a time lag until information becomes available. If an ownership change has taken place, patients must be informed as above and confirm the nomination to remain or not as the case may be.
  • NHS Choices: Check that the pharmacy’s profile information is updated if the ownership or address changes. Note there will be a time lag of approx. up to 10 days until the changes occur and NHS Choices information is updated.  If it has not happened after this time, report this to your system supplier. If this cannot then be resolved, ensure your supplier has escalated this issue to NHS Digital. During the time lag, GP practices will not be able to nominate the new code. However, you can set nominations yourselves during that time.
  • Nomination lists of local GP practices: Following the change to NHS Choices, the EPS nominations list at nearby GP practices should also be updated. If this is not the case, the GP may need to update their system.
  • Schedule of Payment: Check that all is in order for the first FP34 Schedule of Payment received post-change i.e. that it arrives and includes the ODS code you expect.
  • NHSmail: Check that adjustments have been made by sending a test email to your account, and then checking that you can login and view the appropriate email.

Frequently asked questions

Q. If the pharmacy ODS code changes, do we need to update smartcards? (i.e. will the smartcard stop working at that premises)?

A. Yes, all pharmacy staff will be registered linked to ODS codes of the pharmacy sites where they operate the service on a regular basis. The exception to this model is the case of community pharmacists/dispensing technician locums who may need to work within many community pharmacies at short notice. In such cases, they will also have a user role profile registered against a generic organisation ODS code for a “locum pharmacy” that allows them to operate the system from any pharmacy.

If the pharmacy ODS code changes all users need to have the new ODS code added to their profile. An RA02 form needs to be completed and sent to the RA Manager to be actioned. This can be done before the removal of the old ODS code to aide transition.

To minimise the disruption caused by changes in ODS codes, a new ODS code should only be requested when a change of ownership occurs and the contractor buys out a business on a non debts and liabilities basis (i.e. the outgoing contractor requires payment for all items dispensed up to the date of sale). 

Q. If the pharmacy ODS code changes, what actions are to be taken so that EPS will function smoothly for the pharmacy following the change?

A. Your system supplier should provide advice about the relevant actions which may need to be carried out by various parties within appropriate timescales. The parties involved are the:

  • pharmacy team;
  • system supplier;
  • Local NHS England team;
  • Pricing Authority; and
  • NHS Digital EPS implementation or ODS team.

 See more at the section above, ‘Practical issues: what you need to consider if your ODS code will change?’

Q. I am changing system supplier. Does this impact my use of my ODS code?

A. Many of the same issues need to be considered with an IT system change. The key way to help minimise any impact when there is a change of system, is to inform outgoing and incoming system suppliers with sufficient notice and a date for the change to take place. System suppliers should also be able to assist contractors complete the change of IT systems. Consider dual running options, and how to prevent partially processed prescriptions being left on the old system.

Q. I am closing my pharmacy are there ODS/IT-related actions for me to consider?

A. If your pharmacy is closing permanently, it is important for nominations to be removed by NHS Digital in a timely manner to prevent patients’ prescriptions being sent to a closed pharmacy. You will need to inform NHS England as soon as possible of your planned closure, as above, and then inform your system supplier of the closure. They will then schedule removal of nominations with NHS Digital. You will also need to deal with partially dispensed prescriptions and the return of relevant prescriptions which have not been dispensed back to the Spine. 

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