Testing NHS Smart Card Integration


I was wondering if I could get some advice around testing integration with NHS Smart Card systems.

As a bit of background, I’m working on a primary care software project at the moment (Desktop application installed onto clinician machines, more info about the product/company here https://www.accurx.com). An issue we’ve come across is that installing our software can throw off the smart card software already installed on the machine and require a reinstall of the latest version of the Identity Agent and middleware. We’ve seen this happen with the old BT Identity Agent and HSCIC Identity Agent v1.

I would love to have more confidence about this particular part of the project and limit disruption to clinicians by being able to test interactions outside of the production environment.

As part of the NHoS/NHSBuntu project I’ve seen you were working on identity last year and found the write up How NHS Smart Cards Work - a Beginner’s Guide really helpful for getting into the area as someone not familiar with NHS Smart Card systems.

Does anyone know of test environments / development kits that can be used to test interactions with the smart card software? In specific case at the moment I’d like to test interaction with existing BT / HSCIC v1 / HSCIC v2 software running in a Windows environment however it would also be interesting to know if there is anything available for other environments too. I imagine what I would need would be a keyboard with integrated smart card, access to some test smart cards, access to older versions of the software and access to some kind of test identity server to connect into.

Best wishes,

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Hi @CalumJEadie, you’re in the right place to get advice on this, although I don’t have much to add further than the blog post I wrote last year. @robdykedotcom @brett and others on here may be able to help though.

Hi @CalumJEadie

In developing smartcard capability for NHSbuntu/NHoS we looked at the NHS Digital Warranted Environment Specification (WES) and started to put together packer definitions of Vagrant boxes for each of the combinations.

NHS Digital have a collection of scripts that are hand-cranked on dedicated machines to produce test PC images for smartcard / spine WES acceptance testing. Packer/vagrant would make it easier for them and easier for all in NHSland to do acceptance/conformance/regression testing.

We’ve asked NHSD to fund us to produce a complete set of WES definitions. If we hear back, we’ll let you know…


Thanks very much @pacharanero and @robdykedotcom for replying so quickly!

Repeatable Packer/Vagrant definitions sounds like a great asset for testing.

On the hardware side, have you found the keyboard and card are particularly bespoke or are they quite off the shelf? I’m wondering whether you need to go to NHS Digital to obtain a test kit or whether you can purchase similar kit online.

Look for Omnikey 3121

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Brilliant thanks

It’s not as though there are any challenging combinations in the WES. See

I started a fork based on boxcutter-windows

And with some help from Chocolatey packaging I made a start

Yea, that looks quite straightforward. Nice one thanks.