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Endorsing Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs)

What is an SSP?

If the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) decides there is a serious shortage of a specific medicine or appliance, they may issue a Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP).

Under an SSP, pharmacists have the power to dispense an alternative to a prescribed medication, without first having to contact the patient's GP.

The pharmacy contractor must use their professional skill and judgement to decide, alongside medical experts, whether it's reasonable and appropriate to substitute the patient's prescribed order for the alternative defined in the active SSP. The patient must also agree to the alternative supply for that dispensing month.

More information can be found at:

How to endorse

Dispensing contractors must use the new Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) endorsement to submit a valid claim.

To claim for an SSP product using the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS):

  • select the SSP endorsement
  • input the appropriate 3-digit reference number
  • select the relevant SSP product dispensed as the dispensed item(s) and endorse appropriately
  • input the quantity dispensed to the patient

Please ensure you follow any guidance provided by your system supplier to successfully endorse an SSP product.

To claim for an SSP product on a handwritten prescription:

  • endorse SSP and the appropriate 3-digit reference number
  • endorse the relevant SSP product dispensed including strength, pharmaceutical form, and quantity
  • place the prescription in the red separator

Failure to follow these steps correctly may affect your payment.

Common errors endorsing SSPs

Common errors we see:

  • not an SSP item - SSP endorsement applied to a non-SSP prescribed item
  • incorrect dispensed item - SSP endorsement applied for an SSP prescribed item but dispensed item not as per the SSP. Often it is the same as prescribed when SSP requires an alternative to be given
  • not a reduced quantity - Same dispensed quantity given as prescribed when the SSP requires a reduced quantity
  • expired SSP - SSP applied to a product outside of the SSP window
  • incorrect SSP NumberThe endorsed SSP number does not match the actual SSP number