Seek system supplier advice prior to updating your PMR system software/hardware

Seek system supplier advice prior to updating your PMR system software/hardware

NHS applications require certain internet browsers and settings. It is important to seek expert advice from your PMR supplier before installing or upgrading software held on the local pharmacy system. In addition to the risk that this could interfere with the operation of the PMR system and limit access to national NHS IT functionality, there is a risk that this could breach the support agreement that the pharmacy has with their PMR supplier.

PSNC previously received a number of reports of pharmacies choosing to independently upgrade to newer versions of Internet Explorer (IE) which prevented pharmacy staff from accessing online Smartcard software. Similarly, versions of IE which are too old, may not allow Spine applications such as the Summary Care Record to function fully correctly.

Standard system settings

The standard NHS system settings are determined by the Warranted Environment Specification (WES), which itself specifies which versions apply in regards to:

  • operating systems (e.g. Windows 7 minimum, older Windows versions are no longer falling within the common settings);
  • internet browsers (e.g. Microsoft Internet Explorer 11, older IE versions are no longer falling within the common settings);
  • java version (the version of the computer programming language being used, which is intended to let programs run smoothly); and
  • Smartcard-related drivers (computer program that controls use of the Smartcard reader).

Your system supplier should be familiar with the WES (NHS Digital) which should help to ensure that NHS and other key software can continue to run alongside each other. Where old versions of the above are used, the system may fall outside the standard NHS WES.

If your system supplier, or a software provider recommends using settings outside of the WES, you may discuss with them whether adjustments can be made so that all of your hardware, systems, and software can comply with the WES, so that everything you need should use the same compatibility range.

Examples of NHS IT applications include:

Keeping software up-to-date

As explained earlier, contact your IT/software support if you are unsure about whether software they manage could or should be updated. provided guidance about how to check maintain software and ensure it is updated e.g.:

  • consider setting some third party software to auto-update where this is an option;
  • manually update software that cannot be set to auto-update; and
  • consider alternative software if the software is no longer updated and could pose any security risk.

Pharmacy purchasing own hardware?

Some system suppliers allow pharmacy contractors to purchase their own hardware. Where a supplier does permit this, it is essential to talk to your supplier before making a purchase to ensure that the hardware specification will support access to national NHS IT functionality. Always talk to your supplier first.

Information for system suppliers and software providers

For those that provide PMR systems or software for pharmacy, there are advantages with ensuring that your system/software is compatible with the WES. This will mean that Spine applications for your pharmacy customers ought not to experience compatibility issues.

Related resources

  • WES (NHS Digital)
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