Allocation of ODS codes

Allocation of ODS codes

The contractor code is a pharmacy’s unique identifying code which appears at the top of the schedule of payments document that is received from the Pricing Authority each month. The code is officially known as the ODS code, and was previously called the OCS code, NACS code or F code.

The ODS code is now used to support a number of national NHS IT systems and disruption may be caused if the code is changed unnecessarily. In particular the following areas would be impacted following the allocation of a new code:

  • Connectivity to NHS Services (‘End Point Registration’);
  • Smart Cards – will need to be updated by the Registration Authority;
  • Patient Nomination – patients and GPs use NHS Choices, which uses ODS codes, to select a nominated pharmacy;
  • E-Repeat Dispensing – repeat prescription messages are stored by EPS against the ODS code; and
  • NHSmail – Email addresses linked to pharmacy premises are expected to include the ODS code.

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); and
  • A relocation of the pharmacy which is a significant change (i.e. the relocation did not meet the criteria for a ‘no significant change’ relocation).

In other cases, there is no need for a new ODS code to be allocated. For example:

  • Change of Ownership (Contractor completely buys out another company including debts, liabilities and/or access to bank account)– resulting in a change of company name only;
  • Contractor changes company name (e.g from a sole proprietor to a Ltd company);
  • Contractor relocation of premises where this is granted under regulation 24 (a ‘no significant change’ relocation);
  • Contractor changes Telephone Number;
  • Contractor changes trading name; and
  • Contractor’s NHS England local office changes its boundary, resulting in the pharmacy being in a different NHS England area.

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 who will make the necessary changes.


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
  • HSCIC EPS implementation team.


Related resources

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