IT and EPS contingency planning

Published on: 16th July 2013 | Updated on: 22nd June 2022

Business continuity resources are found at our Business continuity hub and the emergency and business continuity and template planning page. IT/EPS-specific additional resources and some suggested actions include the below. This website section has continued to be updated in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Live issues: EPS prescriptions, risk of increased invalid signature errors, June 2022 

Issue: The NHS Digital 1B smartcard certificate used for signing of EPS prescriptions is due to expire on 27th June 2022. NHS Digital have identified a potential risk whereby prescriptions that have been signed using the 1B certificate prior to expiry but are downloaded after the expiry date may be incorrectly identified by some pharmacy systems as having an invalid digital signature. Whilst system suppliers have taken steps to mitigate this, there remains the possibility that live incidents may be experienced.

Impact: While all pharmacy systems can download these EPS prescriptions as normal, those presenting with ‘Invalid Signature’ are not able to be processed (dispensed and claimed). This can result in a delay to the dispensing and supply of medicines to a patient.

Action for pharmacies: If you are unable to process a prescription due to an “Invalid Signature” please refer to business continuity guidance. These support pages on the PSNC website will also provide advice on steps to be taken to support patients when EPS prescriptions cannot be obtained (see section below, ‘When EPS prescriptions cannot be obtained’).

This issue must also be reported to your system supplier immediately via the EPS escalation route.

Temporary closure checklist

Broader IT/EPS planning

Technical failure, outages, live status, and systems

Updating opening hours on Directory of Services (DoS) and NHS website

For information about updating hours at DoS and NHS website see:

Working with EPS prescriptions and tokens

When EPS prescriptions cannot be obtained

The EPS troubleshooting factsheet sets out options for those situations when an EPS prescription cannot be resolved. The guide explains these are “in no particular order and professional judgment required to ascertain urgency and best option for the patient”.

  • Patient to return to the pharmacy at a later time (if script not required immediately).
  • Deliver prescriptions to patient when systems are resumed.
  • Emergency supply at the request of the prescriber.
  • Paper FP10 prescriptions printed by arrangement with the GP surgery.
  • Referral to another pharmacy (not suitable for some scenarios).

Reporting IT/EPS


Top tips

  • Ensure team members have Smartcards set-up with the appropriate roles and ODS codes on them (multi-site where needed) and NHSmail personal accounts that link to the pharmacy shared NHSmail mailbox.
  • Review the webpages within this website section to support your IT contingency efforts.
  • Sign-up to receive Spine EPS and NHS IT alerts so that you can receive an email or text when there are national EPS problems.
  • Favourite and use the EPS and NHS IT service status checker webpage to check if NHS IT issues relate to national or system issues.
  • Sign-up for Priority Services Register (PSR) for priority to utilities access in event of problems.

Other resources



Return to the IT section: EPS home

Return to the Pharmacy IT hub or IT a-z index


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