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Are your pharmacy’s quality payments at risk?

With NHS data showing a third of contractors have not met the criteria for quality payments, the PSNC services team explains how to qualify in time for the February deadline

Pharmacies in England can earn funding through the Quality Payments Scheme, which is part of the community pharmacy contractual framework. This points-based system links funding to certain requirements, known as quality criteria. To be eligible to claim for a quality payment, contractors must first meet five gateway criteria.

Our analysis of data from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) suggests that at the end of January, at least 36% of contractors had yet to meet all the gateway criteria. In total, quality payments are potentially worth £6,400, so it’s important to meet all the gateway criteria by the review point – the next one is February 15, 2019.

To be eligible to claim a quality payment, contractors must meet five gateway criteria:

  • Have an up to date entry on their pharmacy's NHS website (, which includes bank holiday opening hours
  • Be able to send and receive NHSmail from their shared premises NHSmail account, which must have at least two live linked accounts
  • Display the results of the pharmacy’s last completed community pharmacy patient questionnaire (CPPQ) on their page
  • Show that the pharmacy’s operating system and browser versions are compatible with NHS Digital’s warranted environment specification (WES) requirements, for connectivity to NHS spine systems. This is a new gateway criterion for the February 2019 review point
  • Provide at least one specified advanced service.
NHS website entry: 3,383 contractors non-compliant

A pharmacy’s profile on the NHS website (, formerly NHS Choices) must be up to date to meet this gateway criterion. Read the NHS website user guide, which provides step-by-step instructions on how to update or validate a pharmacy’s NHS website profile.

Incidentally, since distance-selling pharmacies do not have full NHS profiles, they need to follow a different process to meet this criterion.

Some contractors may have reviewed their profile and know they are up to date, but it is vital they validate this information to confirm they have checked it between December 3, 2018 and February 15, 2019.

We estimate that 2,017 contractors have only updated and/or validated one or two sections of their pharmacy’s profile, and not the required three sections; these contractors currently do not meet the gateway criterion. 

MUR stickers

Additionally, 40 contractors have updated all three sections, but have not listed whether they offer medicines use reviews or the new medicine service at their pharmacy on their profile.

If you offer either of these services and intend to meet the advanced services gateway criterion, the service must be listed on your up to date NHS website profile.

PSNC’s top tip: Once you’ve updated and/or validated all three sections, visit the patient-facing page of your NHS profile to check whether the information and dates listed on the pages reflect when you last did this. If possible, take screenshots as evidence of having met this gateway criterion.

NHSmail: 1,622 contractors non-compliant

Contractors must have at least two active linked accounts to their pharmacy's shared NHSmail account.

Pharmacy computer

We believe that many pharmacies have not achieved this, because at least one of their linked accounts has become inactive – which happens automatically when an account has not been accessed for 90 days.

PSNC’s top tip: Work through our checklist, which suggests a number of actions to ensure you meet the NHSmail gateway criterion.

CPPQ results: 906 contractors non-compliant


Contractors must upload the results of their most recent community pharmacy patient questionnaire (CPPQ) to their NHS website profile.

Read the NHS website user guide to ensure you follow the naming convention correctly when you upload your latest CPPQ results – which must be uploaded as a PDF – to your pharmacy’s profile on the NHS website.

Distance-selling pharmacies need to upload their CPPQ to their pharmacy’s website, and should ensure they follow the process detailed on our website.

PSNC’s top tip: Visit the patient-facing page of your NHS profile, and check on the overview page (where your pharmacy’s opening times are displayed) that your latest CPPQ results are showing as a PDF in the ‘latest news’ section.

Warranted environment specification (WES)

Pharmacy computer systems that access NHS Digital services through the NHS spine have to meet certain technical standards, known as the warranted environment specification (WES). This defines the systems – such as operating systems and web browsers – that are supported by NHS Digital.

For cybersecurity reasons, the NHSBSA has not published the statistics on the number of contractors who are not WES-compliant. We are aware that a number of contractors haven’t accessed the summary care record (SCR), which enables the NHSBSA to assess whether a pharmacy is compliant.

The NHSBSA sent contractors in England an email in mid-January, which stated whether their pharmacy had been assessed as meeting the WES gateway criterion or not. Those that did not meet the criterion – either because they couldn’t be assessed as they hadn’t accessed the SCR portal, or have since become non-compliant – should have received a follow-up email.

If you have not received an email to your shared premises NHSmail account, first check whether it went to your head office. If not, email the NHSBSA provider assurance team and ask if your pharmacy is compliant.

If your pharmacy is not WES-compliant, speak to your system supplier as soon as possible to take corrective action, then access the SCR portal to ensure you can be assessed again in the next round of checks.

PSNC’s top tip: If your NHSBSA email advised that it hasn't been able to assess your WES compliance, you’ll need to have accessed the SCR portal by February 7, 2019 to ensure you receive an email updating you on your pharmacy’s compliance.

Checking the NHSBSA report

Finally, contractors can check the NHSBSA’s gateway criteria report, which details pharmacies that have been assessed, using national datasets, as meeting four of the five gateway criteria (it does not report compliance with WES).

PSNC logo

An updated version of the report is published every Friday and is highlighted on the PSNC website, so contractors can search to see if their pharmacy meets the four criteria.

If you are not currently meeting all four of the criteria, act as soon as possible to ensure you have time to rectify this before the February 15 deadline. Corrective action will not show on the report until it has been updated on the following Friday.

PSNC’s top tip: The report can change, so we recommend downloading it on a weekly basis to check that you still meet all four of the gateway criteria.

How do I review my results?
  1. The report can be found at, in the ‘datasets for gateway criteria’ section
  2. Open the spreadsheet and search for your pharmacy’s ODS code (F code)
  3. The spreadsheet will display either a green or red box for opening times, services and facilities columns. The dates in these boxes denote when these sections were last edited or validated. If all three boxes are green and there is a tick in the NHS website column, the NHS website criterion is deemed to be met
  4. The spreadsheet also displays a green tick or a red cross depending on whether the pharmacy has been assessed as meeting the gateway criteria in the NHS website, advanced services, CPPQ and NHSmail columns of the report.

All figures and information regarding quality payment achievement by community pharmacies in England were correct as of February 1, 2019. 


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