Overcoming and preventing problems printing or receiving tokens

Overcoming and preventing problems printing or receiving tokens

Contingency planning

PCSE distribute EPS tokens. The expected process is that tokens must be printed onto official token paper stationery.

Preventing printer problems: A broken printer or running out of toner can create significant operational problems within pharmacies. It is important that pharmacies consider this in business continuity planning to minimise the risk of this occurring.

If you need to collect an exemption declaration but there are longstanding problems preventing dispensing tokens being printed or received, some pharmacies may be considering a number of options as a very last resort:

  • Borrow tokens
  • Handwrite a token: Some pharmacy staff may have handwritten the dispensing token and used this to capture the exemption declaration. It is important to ensure that as a minimum, the patient’s name and the prescription ID number are written on the form. There is no need to write the product information or prescriber details.
  • Recording the information in another way (e.g. book): Another option is pharmacy staff have used is to record the patient’s exemption details, for example get the patient to write a note in a bound book with the name, date, prescription ID and their exemption details and then once the pharmacy is in a position to print tokens again, pharmacy staff complete the reverse of the token as the patient’s agent. The pharmacist would need to be sure that the patient understands that he has authorised the pharmacist to sign as his ‘agent’. However, this option is not recommended by NHS Protect and PSNC for a number of reasons. Primarily because the pharmacist is involved in the transaction, insofar as they benefit financially from the dispensing of the prescription, and to help avoid any potential discrepancies between the patient and the pharmacist regarding exemption status. It should be noted, any liabilities incurred by acting as an “agent” are in fact liabilities of the patient and not the pharmacist acting as the agent. Therefore all liabilities for penalties will always be that of the patient. Unfortunately, PSNC has been informed of cases where pharmacists or their staff have erroneously signed prescriptions on behalf of patients, where the patient was not present in the pharmacy at the time of dispensing, and the patients have received letters from the Counter Fraud officials seeking repayment where the patient was in fact not entitled to exemption from charges. To avoid any confusion between the pharmacist and patient, the signing of the exemption claim is therefore not recommended, unless the pharmacist or his staff see the proof of entitlement to exemption.


Jamming issues

During summer 2015, Xerox replaced 3M as the supplier of EPS tokens to the NHS. PCSE distribute EPS tokens but are not responsible for their manufacture. 

If pharmacy teams experience increased levels of printer-jamming they could contact the Xerox helpdesk on 0300 123 0849 or via email nhsorders@xerox.com for support and assistance. Where pharmacy contractors continue to experience problems with printer jamming, they may also wish to contact their IT supplier to ensure that their printer settings are configured optimally for printing EPS tokens.

Top tips to reduce risk of jamming:

  • Avoid excessive printing without a break: This may overheat the printer and reduces its lifespan. Consider printing in batches to allow cool-down periods. Refer to your manufacturer guidance for further information.
  • Can printing be reduced: Some pharmacies report that the decision to introduce extra terminals allowed for SOPs to be refined so that there was less printing and therefore the usage of toner and printer replacements was reduced. A further consequence was a lower risk of printer jamming. The only tokens which are required to be sent to the Pricing Authority are those relating to paid prescriptions, and those which relate to prescriptions exempt for a reason other than age.
  • Use thin paper setting: We have been advised thin paper, and lower fuse temperatures settings can be made available for those using Brother printers (updated firmware may be needed). Whichever printer is being used, a thin printer setting may be preferable to avoid the risk of jamming. Whether you have a single input tray in your printer’s driver or many input trays, tell the printer what kind of paper you have in the tray: Most printer controls include a section or drop-down list where you can pick a paper by name, type, thickness, or other quality. If you aren’t sure whether your printer takes a certain kind of paper, check its documentation.
  • Avoid mixing paper types: Use only one kind of paper at a time in your input tray.
  • Pay attention to the tray’s needs when you are reloading your input tray, tray’s needs, such as how the paper should be loaded and whether the length or width guides need adjusting.

Related resources

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