A reader has written to tell us he has been unable to get hold of urgent medication for his heart condition this weekend owing to an NHS computer failure, which appears to be affecting the whole country.
Did you know that the 111 NHS service has not had access to patients’ medical records for over 24 hours due to a computer failure?
I have been trying to deal with 111 all day because of my GP surgery’s failure to issue an urgent prescription (I have a heart condition) in time for the weekend and my medication has run out.
The correct protocol is to contact 111 to obtain an emergency prescription from a doctor on call, but since yesterday [Thursday] morning, nationwide (according to the doctor I spoke to), no one working for the 111 service has been able to access any patient records whatsoever. I just got another call back from the doctor who himself said it defies belief that this has happened and is amazed the press hasn’t picked up on it yet.
FYI the NHS is unable to issue any prescriptions for emergencies because of this, until it’s fixed, and I was told not to expect it to be up and running again until after the weekend by one of the doctors I spoke to.
I found a news report on this blaming it on a cyberattack – pretty worrying that it’s so easy to take out access to U.K. medical records and prevent Brits getting the medicine they need. The Independent reports:
People seeking medical help via the NHS 111 call line have been warned of delays after a cyberattack caused a “major” computer system outage, which may not be resolved until next week.
The “security issue” was first identified early on Thursday and is affecting an IT system called Adastra, which is used to refer patients for care – including ambulances being dispatched, out-of-hours appointment bookings and emergency prescriptions.
The system is used by 85% of NHS 111 providers and several out-of-hours services, and the outage was described by the Welsh Ambulance Service as “major”, “far reaching” and affecting all four nations of the UK…
GPs in London were warned they may see a rush of patients sent by NHS 111 due to a “significant technical issue” and “system outage”.
Pulse magazine was told the issue had left NHS 111 unable to book patients into GP appointment slots…
An NHS spokesperson said: “NHS 111 services are still available for patients who are unwell, but as ever if it is an emergency please call 999. There is currently minimal disruption and the NHS will continue to monitor the situation as it works with Advanced to resolve their software system as quickly as possible – tried and tested contingency plans are in place for local areas who use this service.”
The disruption certainly didn’t seem minimal to our reader. Are other readers experiencing a similar problem? Let us know in the comments or by email.
Meanwhile, another reader sent us the image below, showing that his local surgery is now insisting on face masks and social distancing, not for COVID-19 but for “infectious diseases” generally. Which means forever, of course. Let’s hope this doesn’t catch on or become any kind of nationwide policy.