Original article: 2nd August 2020. Updated links: July 2023.

Following the early release of the NHS Steroid Emergency Card in March 2020 to keep patients with Addison's or adrenal insufficiency safe during the COVID-19 crisis, the NHS steroid card has been updated and physical copies will be available for order from Tuesday 18th August 2020 for hospital teams and from Tuesday 1st September 2020 for GP and community pharmacy teams.

The card is still available as a download, allowing you to immediately print a copy for your wallet or purse, as well as saving a copy of the card to your mobile phone. The card can be downloaded from the Society for Endocrinology adrenal crisis webpage.

Red and white steroid card with blue NHS logo in top left corner.

The NHS Safety Alert is across England and devolved nations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

If you live in Scotland, please click here for more information
If you live in Wales, please click here for more information

What is the NHS Steroid Emergency Card?

The card has been developed by the Society for Endocrinology (SfE), Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I), to be carried by patients at risk of adrenal crisis.

As well as including sections for you to complete, the weblink and QR code printed on the card takes you and health teams straight to the Society for Endocrinology Adrenal Crisis page which has all the relevant guidance on how to manage an adrenal crisis, and patient information links. New medical guidance has been released alongside the card, providing vital information on the prevention and emergency management of adrenal insufficiency, which you can read here; as well as a National Patient Safety Alert. 

NHS National Patient Safety Logo

National Patient Safety Alert

Thumbnal image of guidance for preventing adrenal crisis

Guidance for the prevention and emergency management of adult patients with adrenal insufficiency.

Thumbnail image of red and white steroid card

Society for Endocrinology

Adrenal Crisis page

Thumbnail image of pulse magazine article

Pulse Today article by ADSHG Medical Trustees: issue March 2021 pgs 34-35.

The development of the NHS Steroid Emergency Card is a fantastic and reassuring resource for those of us living with Addison's. It's development and update in liaison with ambulance services shows the increased awareness around the correct and fast treatment for adrenal crisis, one of the main aims of our charity work - our great thanks to the commitment of the team involved!

ADSHG Charity Medical Trustee Dr Helen Simpson, who has led the development of the card, tells us:

“Thank you all so much for your comments and support and for feedback after the soft pdf launch during the peak of the Corona Virus Pandemic. This is a new card and various organisations across the NHS are working together to enable implementation. It may take a little time for everything to work smoothly, so whilst we know many of you are keen to have a new card, we are all grateful for your ongoing patience whilst everything embeds.

We hope that the Steroid Emergency Card, Guidance and National Patient Safety Alert (NSPA) helps patient safety and we look forward to receiving your feedback.”

Below we’ve answered some of your questions about the NHS Steroid Emergency card.

Click here for details on all the steroid cards available.

When will a card be available for children and adolescents?

This card and its associated guidance is intended for use by adults (16+). A specific card for children and adolescents was published by the British Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes on 27th November 2020.

The BSPED Paediatric Steroid Treatment Card for Adrenal Insufficiency provides a succinct steroid management plan for illnesses, emergency injections and blood sugar and electrolyte correction. Download or view the BSPED card from their website. BSPED is keen to encourage uniform practice and improve the care of children and young people with Adrenal Insufficiency. 

If you have any queries regarding the card please contact the BSPED Clinical Committee ([email protected])

How do I order a physical copy of the card?

There are 3 ways of obtaining a NHS Steroid Emergency Card:

  1. Through community pharmacies. Please let them know you have had the relevant patient education and are aware of sick day rules. You may wish to show a clinical letter or similar but that is not essential. If you lose your card the community pharmacy team can also provide a replacement.
  2. Your GP when having your next routine review, ask if they could order you a card via the Society for Endocrinology page. They can learn more about the card in our free RCGP training module
  3. Hospital teams at your next Endocrine appointment ask for a card to be posted to you with your follow-up letter.

When asking for an NHS Steroid Emergency Card to be ordered on your behalf, we recommend including the link to the Society for Endocrinology page as this provides your Health Care Professional with the direct links to order.

Due to the current strains on the NHS, please be aware there may be a delay in receiving the card. So if you can print your own copy of the card to carry on your person whilst you wait to receive the card, this is a great option.

 Waiting room awareness posterdownload and ask your GP or Endocrinologist to put this poster in their waiting room, so people living with Addison's disease or adrenal insufficiency are reminded to carry the NHS Steroid Emergency card.
 Healthcare professionals - download and print this poster for your staff room or share with your colleagues so they are aware of the NHS Steroid emergency card.
I don’t have a printer! How else can I display the card? Can I save it on my phone?

As well as people asking friends or family to print the copies of the cards, we’ve had great feedback from members saving the card on their phones. As most of us always have our phones nearby, this gives an immediate option ahead of receiving a physical copy of the card. The image can also be included in your mobile phone medical ID, if your mobile phone has that option.

We at the ADSHG have found this to work great as our wallpaper background! Check out our snapshots below. Here we have screenshotted the card on our smartphone from the Society of Endocrinology website and saved as an image on our phone.

                        Photo of iphone displaying digital image of steroid emergency cardClick here for the NHS Steroid Card in vertical form - which you can then save to your phone as pictures above

It’s important to note carrying the NHS Steroid Emergency Card is recommended in addition to your medic alert bracelet or necklace.

If you have any photos or ideas you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you! Please get in touch on our Contact Us webpage.

Pictures of range of emergency ID items
Can I still purchase the ADSHG Adrenal Crisis Emergency Wallet Card?

Yes, the NHS card is a welcome addition to the charity Adrenal Crisis Emergency wallet card, available from our online shop and in our charity members welcome pack. The charity card is intended for the information of paramedics, GPs, Accident & Emergency staff and other front-line medical personnel, on the treatment required to prevent an adrenal crisis in the event of serious injury or illness. Our silicone steroid-alert bracelets are also available in our online shop. 

Click here for details on all the steroid cards available.

Whether you're newly diagnosed or have lived with the condition for years - please join our community and support our cause! You'll receive the latest expert advice, guidance and ADSHG news, whilst being part of our inspiring and supportive community. Become a member today! 

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