Pharmacy ODS codes and changes of them

Pharmacy ODS codes and changes of them

Your pharmacy ODS (F) code is the pharmacy’s unique identifying code. If your pharmacy ODS code may change (e.g. when the location or ownership changes) then there are actions needed to ensure a smoother transition.

PSNC recommends that pharmacy contractors planning such changes work through all of the change of circumstance guide/checklist and give the local NHS England team an absolute minimum of one month’s notice of the planned date for the change. The full transition period lasts for at least one month. Pharmacy relocation, closures or sales are subject to regulatory requirements, but this PSNC guidance focuses on mitigating IT/Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) impacts where such changes are planned.

What is an ODS code?

The Organisation Data Service (ODS) code is the unique identifying code used by the NHS for various purposes, including supporting national NHS IT systems, such as EPS. Most NHS providers have an ODS code and for pharmacies, it is a five-character code beginning with the letter F. It appears at the top of the pharmacy’s schedule of payments monthly document that is received from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA). It has previously been known as OCS, NACS or F codes.

If your pharmacy’s ODS code is changed or deactivated, the following are affected:

  • NHSBSA payments to the contractor;
  • connectivity to NHS Services, e.g. use of EPS;
  • EPS patient nomination settings and the eRD (Electronic Repeat Dispensing service) cycle;
  • NHS Smartcards need updating by the Registration Authority (RA);
  • NHSmail;
  • NHS Choices listing of the pharmacy; and,
  • your pharmacy PMR system.

Planning well in advance of the change, by the contractor, the PMR system supplier and the NHS, is necessary to avoid disruption to patients, services and your payments.

Your ODS code may not need to change in some scenarios. Read more at the change of circumstance guide/checklist.

ODS/change checklist

PSNC recommends that pharmacy contractors planning changes of circumstance work through all of the checklist below as well as giving the local NHS England team a minimum of one month’s notice of the planned date for the change:

PSNC Briefing: Change of pharmacy circumstance guide/checklist: ODS codes and planning required should your ODS code change

ODS portal

See: NHS Digital’s ODS portal.

The ODS portal enables you to check the ODS portal entry for your own pharmacy or look-up another organisation by ODS code or name or address.

PSNC’s Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPTK) guidance materials includes Checking pharmacies linked to HQ code using ODS portal factsheet.


Q. If the pharmacy ODS code changes, what actions are to be taken so that EPS and NHS IT will function smoothly for the pharmacy following the change?

Read more at the change of circumstance guide/checklist.

Q. How do I speed the process for my pharmacy being listed as EPS-ready following an ODS change?

It is important to claim for a script immediately after your supplier changes the local configuration to the new ODS code (occurs shortly after NHS Digital migrate EPS nominations). This triggers the new ODS code to be flagged as EPS live on the NHSBSA system. This change will occur on the first Wednesday after the claim, and NHS website will be updated, with the ODS code showing as EPS live the Monday following (please note this time lag). PMR suppliers have advised PSNC they support a real or test script being sent by them or the contractor swiftly (within a working day). If you believe the new ODS code is not yet appearing on NHS website after this time lag, contact your system supplier who may escalate this issue to NHS Digital.

Q. If ownership and ODS changes how will the EPS nominations be transferred?

Nominations are set for patients against a pharmacy’s ODS code, so where there is a new ODS code, these must be migrated manually by NHS Digital. It is vital that you give at least one month’s notice of the date of the opening, change of ownership or ordinary relocation that will trigger this. It is also important to inform patients about changes:

  • Where there is a change of ownership, the new contractor must according to the terms of service (i) explain to each patient that the ownership of the pharmacy premises has changed and (ii) ask each patient if he or she wishes to maintain the nomination for the pharmacy premises. That can be done before the change where possible or within six months of the change of ownership.
  • For pharmacy relocations, contractors may be asked to confirm that patients have been informed and this information might be shared with NHS Digital to request migration of EPS nominations.
  • For pharmacy consolidations, the assurances that patients have been informed is part of the commencement notice for the consolidated business.

You can check the pharmacy’s total number of nominations prior to the ODS code change by referring to the ‘Nominations by dispenser’ spreadsheet downloadable at the NHS Digital website. Usually your system supplier will liaise with NHS Digital to schedule the migration for an appropriate time, if it has been approved.

Q. How will my pharmacy be listed on the NHS website and marked EPS-ready there?

Check that the pharmacy’s profile information is updated if the ownership or address changes. Note there will be a time lag of around 10 days until the changes occur and NHS website information is updated. If this has not happened after this time, report this to your system supplier. If this cannot then be resolved, ensure your supplier has escalated this issue to NHS Digital. During the time lag, GP practices will not be able to nominate the new code. However, you can set EPS nominations yourselves during that time.

Q. Following a recent ODS code, and my pharmacy listing being updated at the NHS website, my local GP practice still can’t see my pharmacy listed yet and set an EPS nomination for my pharmacy?

See the questions above on the process for nomination transfer and getting the NHS website listing updated. Following the change to NHS website, the EPS nominations list within the clinical systems at nearby GP practices should also be updated. If this is not the case, the GP may need to update their system, requesting support from their IT support or system supplier if required.

Q. I am changing system supplier. Does this impact my use of my ODS code?

Many of the same issues need to be considered with an IT system change. The key way to help minimise any impact when there is a change of system, is to inform outgoing and incoming system suppliers with sufficient notice and a date for the change to take place. System suppliers should also be able to assist contractors complete the change of IT systems. Consider dual running options, and how to prevent partially processed prescriptions being left on the old system. Read more at the change of circumstance guide/checklist.

Q. I am closing my pharmacy are there ODS/IT-related actions for me to consider?

If your pharmacy is closing permanently, it is important for nominations to be removed by NHS Digital in a timely manner to prevent patients’ prescriptions being sent to a closed pharmacy. You should give at least three month’s notice to NHS England before closing a pharmacy (6 months for a 100-hour pharmacy), and then inform your system supplier of the closure. It would be helpful to keep NHS England informed if there are any changes to allow them enough time to instruct NHS Digital to schedule and carry out removal of EPS nominations. You will also need to deal with partially dispensed prescriptions and the return of relevant prescriptions which have not been dispensed back to the Spine.

Further information and related resources

Read more at:

  • ODS (NHS Digital)

If you have queries on this webpage or you require more information please contact



Return to the IT section: Standards

Return to the IT section: NHS IT systems

Return to the IT section: IT/EPS contingency planning

Return to the Pharmacy IT hub


Latest Dispensing and Supply news

View more Dispensing and Supply news >