If you’re just getting started as a locum pharmacist, you may have heard mention of a special EPS Release 2 (or just EPS2) Smartcard carrying the locum-specific User Role Profile: FFFFF. But how important is this special Smartcard, and how does a locum get hold of one?
THE IMPORTANCE OF AN EPS2 SMARTCARD FOR LOCUM PHARMACISTS
The locum-coded EPS2 Smartcard is extremely important for locum pharmacists seeking work through an agency. The card’s FFFFF coding enables it to access the EPS computer system at any pharmacy, rather than only at a specific pharmacy or a pre-allotted series of pharmacies.
In some situations, the FFFFF card is going to be the only means by which a locum-covered pharmacy can access the Release 2 version of the Electronic Prescription Service, so the card can be considered an essential for all locums working through an agency. Lots of pharmacies will be unable to book a locum without a usable EPS2 Smartcard. As a result, a locum without the card may find it more difficult to register with an agency. That’s because an agency may not be able to justify the cost of recruiting a locum who’s restricted in the bookings he or she can cover – especially if there exists the alternative of a locum who can cover the widest range of bookings.
In short, if you’re a locum pharmacist working for an agency, or seeking to work through an agency, you need the FFFFF card. How do you get one?
ISSUE OF EPS RELEASE 2 LOCUM SMARTCARDS
EPS2 Smartcards are issued by the Registration Authority for the area in which the locum regularly works. The NHS Digital site provides a page which lists contacts and contact details for the various Registration Authorities (most likely a local Clinical Commissioning Group). Here’s the link to the page, which is up to date at the time of writing…
The exact process of acquiring your Smartcard will be detailed to you when you contact the appropriate Registration Authority. There are variations in the way different Registration Authorities interpret the process of issue – especially for locums. So it’s really important that you’re clear from the start that you’re applying for a locum-coded FFFFF card, and that the Registration Authority instructs you on that basis.
Acquiring the Smartcard from will involve an in-person meeting, at which you’ll need to provide identification, as specified by your Registration Authority. Pay close attention to the identification requested by the Registration Authority.
Issue of the Smartcard also requires a sponsor. This can complicate the process for a locum, because normally the suggested sponsor will be the pharmacist’s Line Manager or Supervisor. If you’re working as a locum, you’re unlikely to have a set Line Manager.
The Registration Authority may be able to provide a sponsor, but in addition to verifying your identity, the sponsor will also need to be sure that you have a real need for a FFFFF card. As we understand it, some sponsors take more convincing than others.
Here are some pieces of information that may help…
- Your sponsor is not a referee, and so does not need to be able to vouch for your work record of fitness to practice.
- Your sponsor does need to vouch for the fact that your working schedule is not sufficiently predictable to be compatible with a location/company-specific Smartcard. Verifying that you’re a locum is not necessarily enough, because some locums have predictable or company-specific schedules. It must be verified that you’re the type of locum who can’t predict where she or he will be working.
WHAT IF I RUN INTO PROBLEMS?
If you encounter any difficulty with the process of acquiring a FFFFF EPS2 Smartcard, and you’re registering (or registered) with Team Locum, please contact us on 0121 451 2707 (or at firstname.lastname@example.org), and we’ll try to help. If necessary, we can provide a letter confirming that there is locum work available in your vicinity, and that the schedule of your intended placement with pharmacies would be unpredictable.
On previous occasions, one of Team Locum’s Directors – locum pharmacist Terry Yearsley – has been able to act as a sponsor for pharmacists seeking a locum-coded Smartcard in the Birmingham and Worcestershire areas. Whilst this wouldn’t be possible in other areas, please do let us know if you’re struggling. Every locum pharmacist is expected and entitled to provide the care they’re hired to provide.