SSP Guidance Issued

Serious Shortage Protocol: Important information

You will have received recently a communication from the Department of Health NI in respect of a Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) relating to fluoxetine 10mg tablets which was issued by the Department of Health England.

DHNI has confirmed that, although the SSP issued states that it applies to Northern Ireland, this is not the case.  The SSP is not operational here but may be activated at a future date.  If a decision is taken to activate the SSP at a future date, further communication will issue from the DHNI. 


Contractors should:

  • Make their dispensing teams aware that this serious shortage protocol is not applicable to Northern Ireland; and
  • Access the weblink below regularly to check the status of SSPs in Northern Ireland.  This website also contains useful guidance on how to dispense under an SSP.

The CPNI will continue to support and inform contractors in the event that SSPs are rolled out here.

Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs): Issue of guidance.

In early 2019, following consultation, changes to the Human Medicines Regulations were made to allow the introduction of Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) in the event of a serious shortage of medicines. The necessary changes to the Northern Ireland Pharmaceutical Regulations came into force on 31 October 2019.

CPNI has previously notified contractors of the general principles behind SSPs: CPNI-Summary-Serious-Shortage-Protocols-SSPs (issued 27 June 2019)

Further detailed guidance has now been issued by the Department of Health:

This guidance includes form SSP/F/01 which can be downloaded to facilitate the notification of prescribers where necessary. (Remember that notification of the prescriber is only required where a supply is made to a patient for a therapeutic equivalent or when notification of the prescriber is required under the terms of a specific SSP). It is not a requirement to use this form and other means of notifying prescribers may be used. Contractors should consider keeping a record of all such notifications. A copy of FAQs and a patient information leaflet will also be made available on the BSO website.

The intention is that an SSP will be issued only if a medicine has been judged by Ministers to be in serious short supply. The SSP will set out a clear protocol for community pharmacists to follow if they are unable to source that medicine for patients who have been prescribed it.

Contractors will be notified of the issuing of SSPs applicable to Northern Ireland in a number of ways:

• Business Service Organisation’s website – this dedicated section on the BSO website will contain details of all SSPs. For ease, new SSPs or amended existing SSPs will be flagged; • Contractors will be advised by the HSCB when a new SSP is published, or when an amendment is made to an existing SSP, and this will include a link to the BSO website; • Information on SSPs is expected to appear within Trade journals (for example, Chemist and Druggist or the Pharmaceutical Journal) and their associated websites; and • CPNI website – issue of, and updates to, SSPs operating in Northern Ireland will be highlighted on the CPNI website.

Action Contractors and pharmacists are advised to:

• Familiarise themselves with the guidance and to take any actions which they may need to prepare their dispensing teams; and

• Check with their professional indemnity insurance providers to ensure that cover applies to supplies made in accordance with SSPs.

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