Problems with patient records system add to GP workload

GPs across England have been left unable to access patient records for up to an hour at a time following problems accessing the INPS Vision system.

IT systems: problems add to GP workload
IT systems: problems add to GP workload

Doctors are now facing extra work to amend records following consultations, after network problems left them unable to view records and prescribe electronically.

Andrew McHugh, medical practice director at Horsefair Surgery in Oxfordshire, told GP that the situation was a ‘nightmare’.

‘It’s been extraordinarily frustrating to have records up one moment and off the next,’ he said. ‘If we don’t have access to the medical records, we cannot provide a safe service to our patients.’

‘All the time that it’s been down, it’s just backing up work that doesn’t go away. The GPs are constantly running to try and catch up with themselves.’

Network connectivity issues

The problems have been going on since last week, when the Health and Social Care Information Centre raised the issue as a national service incident.

INPS put the problems down to server and router problems at its data centres hampering connections to the N3 network.

‘Intermittent connectivity issues at our data centres have caused short interruptions to the hosted service for a number of practices in England. We continue to work closely with BT N3 and the HSCIC to seek a full and permanent resolution at the earliest opportunity,’ a spokesperson for INPS said.

But practice managers like Mr McHugh want assurances that the system is as reliable as advertised.

‘What we need to provide safe primary care to our patients is resilient and constant access to the medical records,’ Mr McHugh said. ‘For us, it’s mission critical.’

Last year, Mr McHugh carried out a survey that found huge numbers of GPs planned to emigrate, and more than half were not confident their practice would still exist in five years' time.

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