Pharmacy Quality Scheme – NHSmail

Pharmacy Quality Scheme – NHSmail

To be eligible to collect the points necessary to claim a payment for the Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS), community pharmacy contractors must meet four gateway criteria, one of which is that on the day of their declaration (which must be done between 3rd February 2020 and 28th February 2020):

‘Pharmacy staff at the pharmacy must be able to send and receive NHSmail from their shared premises specific NHSmail account, which must have at least two live linked accounts’.

Any problems with pharmacy NHSmail accounts can be dealt with via the helpdesk:

Click on a heading below for more information.

NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance

How to achieve this gateway criterion

PSNC Briefing 049/19: Pharmacy Quality Scheme – Meeting the NHSmail gateway criterion provides community pharmacy contractors with information and a checklist to assist them with meeting the NHSmail gateway criterion of the PQS.

Contractors who do not have a premises-shared NHSmail account

Contractors who have yet to set up a premises-shared NHSmail account can do so using the NHSmail pharmacy registration portal. Setting up a shared account will include the creation of up to ten personal accounts which will be used to access the shared account. Once a contractor has completed the registration using the automated portal, they will be sent login details for the personal accounts so that they can activate them, thereby allowing constant access to the shared mailbox.

Please note, evidence of application for an NHSmail shared mailbox will NOT be considered as having met the gateway criterion.

Contractors who are having any issues with NHSmail in relation to transfer of ownership are encouraged to contact the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) Provider Assurance Team ( as soon as possible in order to resolve these issues ahead of the review date.

What is an active account?

An active linked NHSmail account is one that has been accessed within the last three months and is enabled to allow the user access to the premises-shared NHSmail account. Contractors are reminded that unless the password of a user NHSmail account is updated every 365 days the account will become inactive and the user will not be able to access it. Any such inactive accounts on the review date will not be considered as active. Linked NHSmail account holders are encouraged to ensure their passwords have been updated ahead of the review date to avoid becoming inactive.

A shared NHSmail account needs to have individual user NHSmail accounts linked to it to enable access. For business continuity purposes there should be at least two, and preferably more, active linked NHSmail accounts.

Contractors are reminded of the need to ensure that only appropriate NHSmail accounts, for example, members of staff, regular locums etc., should be linked to their premises shared NHSmail accounts. It would be considered a serious information governance breach if a premises shared NHSmail account was linked to a NHSmail account of a member of staff no longer working in the pharmacy.

Please note: A ‘super user’ NHSmail account is not considered as an active linked personal account and will not contribute to the requirement to have a minimum of two linked accounts. A super user account will usually belong to a user who is head office-based, responsible for the administration of more than one shared NHSmail account and is not involved in providing pharmaceutical services on a day-to-day basis at the individual pharmacies their account is linked to. 

Further information on the action contractors need to take can be found on the NHSmail page of the PSNC website.

Personal user accounts being used as a premises shared mailbox

A personal user account will be used to access the premises shared NHSmail account. Unless a contractor can send and receive email from the premises shared NHSmail account they will not meet the gateway criterion. Sending and receiving email from a personal NHSmail account will not be considered as having met the gateway criterion. If your pharmacy is using an individual user account as a shared mailbox, this will not meet the  gateway criterion. 


FAQs on the Pharmacy Quality Scheme can be found on the Pharmacy Quality Scheme – FAQs and NHSmail pages.

Return to the Pharmacy Quality Scheme hub page


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