Community Pharmacy IT Group (CP ITG) workstream updates

Published on: 28th June 2021 | Updated on: 7th April 2022

Read more about CP ITG and its work at: the Community Pharmacy IT Group (CP ITG) webpage.

This ‘CP ITG workstream update‘ webpage sets out information following CP ITG meetings based on the the latest pharmacy IT bulletin.

The latest bulletin can be also be downloaded in pdf format: CP ITG Spring 2021 IT bulletin update (pdf)

Workstreams (overview)

CP ITG has five workstream areas:

  1. Interoperability and security: Ensuring information about people’s health and care can be safely and securely accessed, wherever it is needed. (WS1a-1d)
  2. Reducing burden: Use of digital to reduce the burden on pharmacy teams, so they can focus on patients, and appropriate infrastructure for the task. (WS2a)
  3. Good use of digital: Support the use of digital within pharmacy to improve health and care productivity, improve patient safety outcomes and improve cooperation between pharmacy teams and the health and care system. (WS3a-3c)
  4. Patient and pharmacy tools: Support enabling patients to be able to choose digital tools to access medicines information and pharmacy services directly, so they can receive the best outcomes, recognising the need to also remain inclusive for all patients. (WS4a)
  5. Set out roadmap priorities: Development and promotion of a wider community pharmacy digital roadmap / vision. (WS5a)

Those areas have some alignment with NHS Transformation Directorate missions. See downloadable PDF version of the full: CP ITG workstreams.

These sections below set out updates related to these workstreams based on the most recent pharmacy IT bulletin.

IT policy updates

Development of a Learning network

  • As part of its work to develop a pharmacy digital strategy, the NHS Transformation Directorate has been tasked with exploring options to develop a ‘National Community Pharmacy Learning Network’, whereby best practice and ideas can be shared. The learning network was one of the items identified during the Kaleidoscope engagement workshops about digital strategy held last year, and which many CP ITG representatives attended. The NHS Transformation Directorate has commissioned Kaleidoscope Health and Care to assist with this learning network discovery work: The discovery team are considering:
  1. What would a successful learning network look like for you?
  2. What gaps currently exist in sharing learning and best practice between different Pharmacy stakeholders?
  3. What are the disadvantages with learning networks?
  4. What sort of topics would you like to discuss in a network like this?
  5. What would make the learning network as engaging as possible for you?
  6. How can we ensure a learning network is sustainable?

Events and digital development

  • An upcoming webinar will be held on accelerating Shared Care Records (ShCR) and related IT standards. It will be held on Monday 21st March 12:00-14:00 and hosted by the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB). Pharmacy team members with an interest with ShCR are encouraged to register to attend.
  • NHS Digital Health Leadership Programme is open to applicants until 24th March for the next cohort of digital leaders (learning begins September). Pharmacy and other applicants can find out more about the application process at the NHS Digital Academy application webpage and the rest of the NHS DA website.

IT policy: priorities and reports

IT policy: NHS organisational changes

IT policy (general)


Interoperability and records

Intro to NHS Booking and Referral Standards (BaRS)

  • NHS Digital’s Booking and Referral Standard (BaRS) team aims to enable booking and referral information to be sent between NHS service providers in a format useful to clinicians. The intentions are that it will eventually be available in all care settings. Pharmacy use cases are currently being considered – including the potential for referrals from NHS 111 to community pharmacy.
  • NHSE&I is developing a standards roadmap to go live in April 2022 which will provide a list of proposed and developing data, information and technical standards, including potential changes to existing standards. BaRS is listed as a major priority.
  • The BaRS team provided an update at the CP ITG Spring 2022 meeting.

NHS Profile Manager

  • Currently, community pharmacy contractors use two different NHS systems to ensure their pharmacy details are up to date in the Directory of Services (DoS) and on the NHS website: the NHS website profile editor and the DoS profile updater.
  • A new tool, NHS Profile Manager is scheduled to replace both the DoS Updater and the NHS website editor in spring 2022. During late 2021 and early 2022, NHS Digital reviewed all the existing users of the NHS website profile editor and any users who are not using an email address ending with received email instructions on how to update their login details.
  • A CP ITG sub group attended two demo meetings, both of which have been recorded and posted online: CP ITG Profile Manager Demo and meeting video 1 (December 2021); and Demo and meeting video 2 (February 2022). The group also discussed future enhancements with NHS Profile Manager team.
  • In February, PSNC published communications about progress with the launch and further communications will be published in due course about the release plan. The group are encouraged to support the cascade of messages.
  • Multiples head office staff needing to use NHS Profile Manager should create a personal NHSmail account if they have not already done so. Advice is at the ‘NHSmail personal accounts: creation and linking’ section of PSNC’s NHSmail
  • NHS Digital will also be working with pharmacy multiples regarding the NHS website and DoS Application programming interface (API).

Shared Care Records (ShCR) update

LPCs and/or local contractors can continue to take steps to gain pharmacy access such as:

PSNC continues to work with NHS Transformation Directorate and other relevant stakeholders on the actions set out within the Shared Care Record (ShCR/LHCR) NHS and pharmacy outputs document. Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs), ShCR project teams and other parties supporting ShCR pharmacy deployment are encouraged to contact with technical ShCR information so that supplier and IT support helpdesks can whitelist several ShCR domains at the same time.


Standards and interoperability

Standards case study

  • Case study: How NHS Digital used API Management to support APIs at scale. NHS Digital implemented an API management platform to help them roll out digital healthcare services more quickly and consistently. The team at NHS Digital set an API management vision with goals to make it easier for suppliers engaged with the project team to:
    • onboard, by only asking developers to do things that are needed;
    • learn, by making documentation available online;
    • design and build, by making APIs internet-facing and using open standards;
    • test, by providing developers with sandbox environments for early and easy testing; and
    • get help and support with self-serve support and reliable help resources.

NHS Digital has bronze, silver, gold and platinum service classifications. Early in the project, the API was initially classified as a bronze service which meant, among other things, support was limited to within office hours. The team switched to platinum and were able to offer a rolling out 24-hour support. The team set up an on-call rota; the rota makes sure someone is available to respond to emergencies and provide backup support. The outcomes of the project were improved lead time, improved supplier rating and engagement.


Virtual Visits: How it works

The Virtual Visits tool provides pharmacy contractors with an appointments system so that pharmacy teams can notify patients and better manage appointments. Pharmacy teams can also use the Virtual Visits tool to conduct face to face or virtual patient consultations (audio or video). The tool works in conjunction with NHSmail Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft Booking platform. To participate in the pilot, you must have: an active personal NHSmail account; access to a shared NHSmail inbox; MS Teams installed on a computer or tablet; and a computer or device with a webcam.

NHSmail updates

  • NHSmail support pages outline the benefits of the NHSmail Teams “Virtual Visits” patient consultation platform – namely, this platform enables appointment booking and video consultation. The NHSmail team previously provided a demo of the tool to PSNC and CP ITG representatives. Several contractors amongst the small alpha pilot group have now begun to successfully use and pilot Virtual Visits.
  • Pharmacy contractors within the group who are not already participating in the pilot are encouraged to take part by completing the volunteer form. The second round of (beta) piloting is due to start from early March 2022.
  • The group will be asked to provide feedback about the Virtual Visits email address naming convention: e.g. for MediGood a recommended format such as: and display name “MediGood (NHS Pharmacy)”.
  • The NHSmail team will be stopping the hard-copy postal one-time passcode (OTP) option currently used to authenticate new users registering for NHSmail, a paperless method is scheduled to be used from late March 2021.
  • PSNC communicated NHSmail Teams guidance.
  • Survey results suggested Microsoft Teams is helping many health and care staff save time.

IG, identity and security

Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPTK)

  • PSNC and NHS Digital are currently updating the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPTK) and related tips. Additional user testing is also planned. If you would like to get involved with this user testing, please contact
  • NHS Digital may update contractors about the availability of the initial Toolkit version. However, we strongly recommend that contractors hold off accessing the Toolkit until the planned improvements have been finalised and PSNC releases its updated guidance. Contractors will still have adequate time to complete the Toolkit before the submission deadline on 30th June 2022. We will keep contractors informed of any developments.

Other data security updates

Connectivity, business continuity arrangements

Reducing burden



  • NHS Digital Organisation Data Service (ODS) team has launched the new ODS DataPoint service enabling you to quickly download customised reports relating to ODS and pharmacy data.
  • NHSX, NHS Digital, PSNC and others are supporting an initiative to rationalise central lists of pharmacy data used within NHS systems and datasets. This will help align data, reduce pharmacy workload, and improve accuracy and data quality. The workstream is also helping to identify future NHS Profile Manager enhancements, some of which are being added to the roadmap.
  • The NHS Digital Terminology Server now includes data from the NHS Dictionary of Medicines and Devices (dm+d), through the Terminology Server’s web API. The old method of downloading XML files from the Technology Reference Update Distribution (TRUD) is still available. NHS Digital plan to add Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs, the numbers used on barcodes) and information about ingredient strength for multi-ingredient products in April 2022.

Development of pharmacy systems

The group previously published its “Use and development of pharmacy systems – Suggested features list v1.0”. Additional feedback has led to this document being significantly updated. Suppliers and the group are encouraged to share final comments, by emailing during March 2022. The updated list will be published shortly after the March 2022 meeting.


  • NHSE &I and PSNC previously announced that a national procurement model would be in place to support community pharmacy contractors with the delivery of the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS). This was originally scheduled to end on 1st October 2021 but was extended to the end of March 2022. Given that the contractual arrangements from 1st April 2022 will be solely between the supplier and pharmacy contractor, contractors should make the necessary preparations as soon as possible. Contractors need to consider their choice of CPCS IT supplier and either confirm to their existing supplier that they will be staying with them or inform a new supplier that they will be using their system. Contractors will be able to transition to their own contractual arrangements with one of the four assured IT providers*: Cegedim; Positive Solutions; Sonar Informatics; or PharmOutcomes. NHSE&I and NHSX published the CPCS IT Provider ‘Switching’ guide and the CPCS IT Buyer’s Guide with inputs from partner organisations including PSNC.
  • Contractors are encouraged to make their decisions well in advance of the upcoming deadline. Group members are asked to communicate on this topic to their networks and can use the CP ITG CPCS IT communications copy and future PSNC and NHSE&I bulletin news items.

* Some suppliers have a solution which is already validated and available whilst others are working towards readiness or planning to get ready on or after 1st April 2022. Some suppliers’ solutions will only work as part of a Patient Medication Record (PMR) system. Some contractors will opt to use more than one system e.g. one system for CPCS NHS 111 referrals and another for CPCS GP referrals.

Recommended minimum transfer dataset for pharmacies switching from one patient medication record (PMR) system to another

  • The group previously supported developing a recommended minimum dataset for cases where a pharmacy contractor has switched from one PMR system to another. A previous draft iteration was supported by the group. For the sake of continuity of patient care, it is critical for some patient information to be transferred from the old to the new system.
  • A drafted dataset has been prepared incorporating the comments from previous group meetings and   An associated specification document has also been prepared. The dataset is not comprehensive for all those records within pharmacy systems, but the dataset is intended to be a starting point as a means to strengthening the data quality. Suppliers recently requested changes, including:
  • arranging the data into tables instead of within a data block (via JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format); and
  • categorising the data by Medicines, Patient, Prescriber and Prescribing Organisation.
  • Suppliers are asked to send comments to by the end of March 2021.
  • The secretariat will arrange a joint call with suppliers to talk through the updated dataset.

Supplier letter

System supplier previously fed back that multiple projects were ongoing or forthcoming within the NHS (see: Appendix CPITG 03A/06/21 Gantt Chart (slide) and spreadsheet version). A group of system suppliers prepared a letter addressed to NHSE&I, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and other pharmacy IT policy makers to explain the benefit of advance IT project planning. The letter explains “We do not wish to delay or prevent innovation and change. We welcome changes which benefit pharmacies, their patients and the NHS. However, we would welcome a deep consideration about how policy makers can ensure that IT system providers in the pharmacy sector are provided with adequate notice ahead of changes being made to ensure the best possible running of pharmacy IT systems and changes.” The letter also proposes enhanced NHS IT assurance processes; that suppliers should be able to collaboratively feed into NHS IT specifications throughout the course of their development; and that suppliers should be able to submit information about their company and solutions to the NHS once. A copy of the supplier letter has been published.


  • NHS Digital EPS and eRD utilisation rate statistics (for the November 2021 dispensing month) are set out on the right.
    • NHS Digital’s ESP team are continuing with their assurance work for EPS prescribing and dispensing systems for current and Next Gen EPS.​
  • NHS Digital ​EPS (Next Generation work):
  • Secondary care system suppliers are developing against the prescribing API, and more suppliers are engaged – both prescribing and dispensing systems​.
  • Development of APIs for dispensing and prescribing system suppliers.
  • Discovery work is ongoing around use of EPS for secondary care outpatients to homecare.
  • Prioritisation of technical developments and potential EPS enhancements continues – considering the value/benefits and technical feasibility.
  • NHSE&I, NHS Digital, and the CP ITG discussed developments at the CP ITG March meeting.

Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC)

  • NHSBSA has led the RTEC project since January 2020. CP ITG and PSNC have been supportive of its continued roll-out. Read more on RTEC, its phases at: RTEC. Feedback from RTEC users (PSL/EMIS/Cegedim/Titan/Lloyds/RxWeb systems) has continued to be positive.
  • NHSBSA, DWP and the RTEC steering group plan have allowed the expansion of the DWP RTEC functionality to additional pharmacy contractors since the last meeting from fifty to 100 sites.
  • The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) said that Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) had performed 100 million checks.

Digital Clinical Safety

NHS Digital seeking pharmacy user research volunteers to support digitising the Valproate form

  • The Valproate Annual Risk Acknowledgement Form (ARAF) helps to confirm the necessary Pregnancy Prevention Programme (PPP)* for those patients being prescribed sodium valproate. A specialist completes the ARAF with the patient and the ARAF information goes back to the GP practice usually by post. NHS Digital are doing discovery work about:
  • How to digitise the form?
  • Which parts of the form might digitally flow into the GP practice system?
  • What bits of information in the form are the most relevant to pharmacy professionals?

NHS Digital are seeking pharmacy user research participants to look at the ARAF and comment about which bits seem the most relevant and why. The research is expected to be undertaken via polls and 15-minute interviews. Some of the work is anticipated to begin during the second half of 2022 which allows a period of discovery before this. Contractors that wish to take part may contact PSNC will forward volunteers’ details to the project team. CP ITG has also signposted the project team to the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group (CPPSG).

*Background and related information: A 2018 independent review was conducted into how the health system in England responds to reports from patients about side effects from treatments. This included whether any further action was needed relating to the complaints around sodium valproate. The government published its response in July 2021. This led to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) changing the licence for valproate medicines in 2018 so these must no longer be prescribed to women or girls of childbearing potential unless they are on a Pregnancy Prevention Programme (PPP).  Pharmacy team guidance proposes that teams use a pathway in which they check whether a PPP is in place (although the pathway sets out that supply should still be provided and other actions taken, even if PPP confirmation is not possible). General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) guidance also suggests checking whether a PPP is in place.

Apps, wearables and technologies (incl videocon)


  • NHS App reached more than 22 million users by end of 2021 with over 16 million new users since the COVID-19 vaccination status service was added in May 2021. The NHS App is available on the Google Play store and the Apple App store. More than 28 million people have registered with NHS login – over half of the English population.
  • The NHS App team are working on further features including:
    • Personal Health Records (PHRs) integration with NHS App.
    • Notifications and messages direct to the NHS App: being piloted in 7 GP practices as of February 2022. Messages include reminders for appointments or online consultations.
    • NHS account: personalisation. Since January 2022 NHS App team have been trialling updated service journeys on NHS website and are exploring how to enable users to easily update their account contact details.
    • Access to GP health records. From April 2022, patients with online accounts such as through the NHS App will be able to read new entries in their health record. This applies to patients whose practices use TPP and EMIS systems. PulseToday reported on progress.
  • NHS App team blogged their work enhancing the patient messages features to better satisfy the growing appetite of users to receive their communications digitally.
  • NHS Login is now being hosted on Amazon’s AWS cloud service.

Apps and tools

Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics

Additional archived quarterly updates

See: CP ITG workstream updates (archive) for older updates in html format. The bulletins (including the most recent one) can also be downloaded in pdf format at the CP ITG webpage.

Get involved

If you have a related query or would like to feed into the CP ITG or share your updates about IT and digital issues then please don’t hesitate to contact one of the group’s organisers, Dan Ah-Thion or or you can also sign-up to join the virtual Community Pharmacy Digital Group which helps inform CP ITG’s work with others. You can be involved as much or as little as you like with CPDG, and can unsubscribe from that email group at any time.



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