Quality Payments – Warranted Environment Specification (WES)

Quality Payments – Warranted Environment Specification (WES)

To be eligible to collect the points necessary to claim a Quality Payment, community pharmacy contractors must meet five gateway criteria, one of which is that on the day of the review:

‘The contractor must have consulted the NHS Digital Warranted Environment Specification (WES) and/or their System Supplier(s) and have reassured themselves, and can demonstrate, that all their operating system and browser versions currently in use in their pharmacy to link to NHS Digital systems, such as the Electronic Prescription Service and Summary Care Record, comply with the WES; and are therefore supported by NHS Digital for connectivity to NHS Spine systems.’

Computer systems which access NHS Digital services through the Spine (which require a Smartcard) have to meet certain technical standards. The Warranted Environment Specification (WES) defines the systems that NHS Digital supports.

This is a new gateway criterion for the February 2019 review point.


Click on a heading below for more information

NHS England guidance

NHS England has published new guidance on the February 2019 review point of the Quality Payments Scheme.

The new guidance should be read in conjunction with NHS England’s previously published gateway criteria and quality criteria guidance:

  • NHS England – Pharmacy Quality Payments Gateway Criteria Guidance (published 23rd December 2016); and
  • NHS England – Pharmacy Quality Payments Quality Criteria Guidance (published 27th February 2017).

These documents are all available on the NHS England website.

How to achieve this gateway criterion

This criterion has been introduced to improve cyber security by ensuring that computer systems which access NHS Digital services through the Spine meet certain technical standards for operating systems and browsers and are therefore supported by NHS Digital. Operating systems and browsers that do not meet these standards have been identified as a major threat to the cyber security of NHS Digital systems.

The Warranted Environment Specification (WES) defines the versions of software required to be installed on user systems in order that they are supported by NHS Digital to access NHS Spine systems and applications requiring a Smartcard.

WES compliant operating systems and browser versions

The operating systems listed in the current WES, and are therefore compliant are:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows 7 SP1 32-bit / 64-bit
  • Windows 8.1 32-bit / 64-bit
  • Windows 10 64-bit

The browser versions listed in the current WES, and are therefore compliant are:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 11
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox

Contractors are required to confirm that the operating systems and browser versions that they are using when accessing the NHS Spine at any time conform to the WES requirements, and if not, work with their system suppliers to update to one listed above by the 15th February 2019 review date.

If a contractor is not sure if they currently meet the WES gateway criterion, please see the ‘Validation of criterion’ section below for further information.

Checking which operating system and browser version you are using

Contractors can check that all the operating system and browser versions currently in use in their pharmacy that link to NHS Digital systems, such as the Electronic Prescription Service and SCR comply with the WES by accessing https://www.whatsmybrowser.org/. You can then check that the operating system and browser version being used is acceptable in the current WES; a list of acceptable operating systems and browser versions are listed on page 21 in the NHS England Quality Payments guidance for the February 2019 review point.

Please note, contractors should access this website on all computer systems in the pharmacy which link to NHS Digital Systems to check that all systems comply with the WES.

Accessing the SCR for the WES gateway criterion

Community pharmacy contractors will need to access the Summary Care Record (SCR) portal from their pharmacy to validate whether their pharmacy meets the Warranted Environment Specification (WES) gateway criterion.

NHS Digital is able to validate whether a contractor meets the WES gateway criterion, once the SCR portal is visited from a computer in the pharmacy. Contractors do not need to access an individual patient’s SCR for validation of this criterion; contractors just need to open the ‘Find a patient’ screen, as shown below, for NHS Digital to be able to capture the pharmacy’s operating system and browser details.

The declaration process

Contractors will be required to confirm through the NHSBSA online declaration page (the portal will go live on Monday 4th February 2019 at 9am and will be available until Friday 1st March 2019 at 11.59pm) that their operating systems and browser version comply with the NHS Digital WES.

Validation of criterion

NHS Digital will validate this criterion when a pharmacy accesses the NHS Spine through connection to the Summary Care Record (SCR) and so pharmacies must log-in to the SCR system at least once prior to the review date between 14th November 2018 and 15th February 2019.

For information ahead of the declaration window, NHS Digital will provide details of which contractors have been assessed as complying with the WES to enable contractors to take appropriate action. This will be sent out to each pharmacy contractor’s shared NHSmail account out in early 2019 and will detail whether the contractor has met this gateway criterion or not from the information available at that time.

Contractors that have been assessed as not meeting this gateway criterion will get regular updates on this assessment until the end of the declaration window or until they have been validated as meeting the WES. Contractors who have been confirmed as meeting the WES requirements will not receive repeated emails confirming compliance, but they should keep the original email as evidence of compliance.

If the pharmacy has been validated as having met the gateway criterion

Provided that access to the SCR portal from the pharmacy continues with WES compliant operating systems and browsers, contractors will continue to be assessed as having met this gateway criterion. However, any access of the SCR portal with a non-compliant operating system or browser will then lead to the pharmacy being considered non-compliant and therefore not meeting the gateway criterion.

Contractors are advised to retain the email confirming that they have been validated, as evidence of compliance with the WES gateway criterion.

If the pharmacy cannot be validated as the pharmacy does not meet the gateway criterion

Contractors who are assessed as non-compliant are expected to work with their system suppliers to update to an operating system and browser that complies with the WES requirements, as outlined on page 21 of the NHS England guidance by the February review point (15th February 2019).

When this has been completed, contractors should access the SCR portal again to allow compliance to be reassessed. Contractors do not need to access an individual patient’s SCR for validation of this criterion; contractors just need to open the ‘Find a patient’ screen for NHS Digital to be able to capture the pharmacy’s operating system and browser details.

Contractors will receive another email (if they have not been assessed as meeting the WES gateway criterion), which will advise if they have been validated and have therefore met this gateway criterion in the next assessment period (see schedule below).

If the pharmacy’s compliance cannot be assessed as the SCR portal has not been accessed

Contractors should access the SCR portal as soon as possible so that the pharmacy’s compliance with the gateway criterion can be assessed and either validated as having met the gateway criterion or contractors can be advised that the pharmacy does not meet the WES requirements, allowing corrective action to be taken by the February review point. Contractors do not need to access an individual patient’s SCR for validation of this criterion; contractors just need to open the ‘Find a patient’ screen for NHS Digital to be able to capture the pharmacy’s operating system and browser details.

Contractors will receive further emails (see schedule below), which will advise if they have been validated and have therefore met this gateway criterion in the next assessment period.

WES emails schedule

The NHSBSA Provider Assurance Team will continue to send out emails to contractors who do not meet the WES gateway criterion and to those who have not accessed the SCR portal for their WES compliance to be assessed on a fortnightly basis. The email schedule is detailed in the table below.

Assessment period Contractors will need to access the SCR portal between these dates to be assessed as to whether they meet the WES gateway criterion Dates when the NHSBSA Provider Assurance Team will email contractors to advise if they have been assessed and whether they meet the WES gateway criterion
1 Between 14th November 2018 – 10th January 2019 16th January 2019
2 Between 11th January 2019 – 24th January 2019 28th January 2019
3 Between 25th January 2019 – 7th February 2019 Week commencing 11th February 2019
4 Between 8th February 2019 – 21st February 2019 Week commencing 25th February 2019

FAQs

Q. How can I check to see if my pharmacy meets the WES gateway criterion?
Contractors can check that all the operating system and browser versions currently in use in their pharmacy that link to NHS Digital systems, such as the Electronic Prescription Service and Summary Care Record comply with the WES by accessing https://www.whatsmybrowser.org/. You can then check that the operating system and browser version being used is acceptable in the current WES; a list of acceptable operating systems and browser versions are listed on page 21 in the NHS England Quality Payments guidance for the February 2019 review point.

Contractors will also receive an email from NHSBSA to inform them whether or not they comply with the NHS Digital WES. This will be sent to each contractor’s premises-shared NHSmail account (some companies have requested that information about the WES gateway criterion is emailed to a representative at their head office rather than to individual pharmacy premises-shared NHSmail accounts).

Q. If I launch the Summary Care Record (SCR) portal, will that be sufficient to meet the WES criterion?
No. In order to assess whether or not the contractor meets the WES criterion, contractors need to access the SCR portal. Contractors do not need to access an individual patient’s SCR for their pharmacy to be assessed; contractors just need to open the ‘Find a patient’ screen.

This will allow NHS Digital to capture the pharmacy’s operating and browser details; NHSBSA can then use this data to assess whether the pharmacy has met the WES gateway criterion and inform contractors of their compliance status.  NHSBSA will send an email to each contractor’s shared premises NHSmail account, which will detail whether NHS Digital has been able to validate the pharmacy as meeting the WES gateway criterion.

More FAQs on the Quality Payments Scheme can be found on the Quality Payments – FAQs page.

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