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Contractors ‘still getting nowhere’ a week on from Pharmacy First IT crash

A week after PharmOutcomes first locked contractors out with a security “upgrade”, some pharmacists are still unable to use the software. 

Today (March 12), a week after the IT problems began, pharmacy contractor Sachin Badiani said that he is “still getting nowhere” with accessing the site. 

“We are still not able to log in to PharmOutcomes. We have been using paper forms for consultations, but how many have been missed?” he told C+D.

Kassim Kurij told C+D today that he is “still experiencing issues with no response” from PharmOutcomes.

He added that the tech provider has “made a few adjustments over a few days” so that the software correctly shows the total services provided.

“But it is allocated incorrectly…so I have submitted the data in Manage Your Service (MYS)” and reported the “discrepancy” to Community Pharmacy England (CPE), he said.

A spokesperson for EMIS said that it “regularly upgrades systems with enhanced security measures and [has] recently updated the way users log in to PharmOutcomes".

Read more: Sector bodies launch manifesto calling for ‘expanded’ Pharmacy First service

"We have individuals available to support this update and answer questions. As ever, clinical safety and information security remain our top priorities and the focus of our efforts,” they added.

Last week, PharmOutcomes’s parent company EMIS said that it had “remained in close contact with NHS England” (NHSE) as it “worked towards this upgrade”.

“However, it was not possible to provide advance notice to pharmacies” it said.

 

“A complete disaster”

 

Since the issues began last week, pharmacists have taken to social media platform X to express their frustration.

On Friday (March 8), Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) England board member Alisdair Jones called EMIS’s response “astonishing”.

“I’ve seen social media awash with confusion – goodness knows what issues it has actually caused,” he added. 

Another commenter deemed the IT flub a “complete disaster” and said they had faced “two hours on the phone [with] no on answering”,

They added that the issue meant patients were “having to be put off”.

Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire chair Ashley Cohen said the issues had “consumed all [of his] branches”.

“Frustrating, badly thought through, not like we have other things to do!!!” he added.

 

“Out of pocket”

 

The continued issues come after the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) last week (March 8) warned that that the NHS Manage Your Service (MYS) portal was “flawed” after pharmacies flagged that it “failed to report correct figures” for the number of Pharmacy First consultations delivered.

The membership body said that its members had experienced “discrepancies that meant that MYS recorded fewer consultations than entered…potentially leaving them out of pocket” by “thousands of pounds”.

It called on the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) to take “take urgent action” to prevent “chaos” with the payment process.

But the NHSBSA stressed that the issue “was not caused by a flaw in the MYS system” and is instead due to the data it receives “from IT system suppliers”.

Last week, CPE highlighted that the NHSBSA had extended the deadline to make Pharmacy First payment claims for February until 5pm on March 15 due to a “technical issue”.

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