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UPDATED: 24-hour EPS outage causes frustration

Pharmacists say the outage is "unacceptable"

Pharmacists using Cegedim systems have been experiencing problems downloading electronic prescriptions

UPDATE - 5pm

Cegedim has told C+D that its system is now working as expected, although it is still working with one of its customers to resolve their residual errors. Users may experience an "intermittent service" while its investigations are completed, it added.


A fault with system supplier Cegedim has left contractors unable to download electronic prescriptions for 24 hours.

The problem began on Monday morning (June 6), and prevented contractors from downloading prescriptions throughout the day. Contractors told C+D the problems have continued in some areas today (June 7). 

Kent contractor Amish Patel said Cegedim had claimed the system was working at 11.30am yesterday, although his pharmacy was still unable to download any prescriptions at this time.

“We have got an automated message [from Cegedim] saying it is aware of the ongoing EPS issues,” Mr Patel said.

“As far as I know it is back up now and we have prescriptions for this morning, but we have a day’s backlog – a third of our work at least,” he added.

"Not acceptable"

Amanda Smith, manager at Heath Pharmacy in Huddersfield, said the outage was “not acceptable” as many people are relying on the Cegedim system.

“Thank goodness we are in a position to get paper scripts quickly from local surgeries,” Ms Smith added.

Cegedim managing director Simon Driver told C+D the supplier was experiencing “intermittent EPS service interruption problems”.

“We are working with our service partners to remedy the situation as soon as possible,” Mr Driver said. “We apologise to our customers for this disruption.” 

The Twitter reaction:

Information given by the Health and Social Care Information Centre:

Have you experienced EPS problems this week?

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Bharat Borkhataria, Community pharmacist

the scripts that should have come on monday have still not come yet (thurs.).cegedimrx are negotiating with hscic to resolve this,but this should have been anticipated and planned for.lots of "understanding"from cegedimrx when you get through ,but no talk of compensation


John Willetts, Locum pharmacist

It seems to me that the situation is complex. Is it Cegidim rx? Or the EPS 2 system? Furthermore many pharmacys have PC's with a very low tech spec and are still running Windows XP. I was in a pharmacy recently where the reponse time from a key press was over 20 seconds! So p'haps it's a combination of these factors. However, there's no chance of getting any understanding from the patients ........

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Cegedim or EPSr2? Hmmm.... Tough one. No ... , wait, were any other pmr systems affected? No? That clarifies things. Cegedim. Steam powered PCs may be a problem but not in this case, EPS2 can only be blamed if NO other system (including GP systems) is unaffected. That is rarely the case.

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

We have only been able to intermittently download EPS2 scripts all day Tuesday. We now have over 50 items PWAD, ie with another dispenser when requested, but that dispenser is us! So over 50 items we have had to supply as emergency supplies. To cap it all when their system is in meltdown they shut the helpline as usual at 6pm and all sod off home! Cegedim's EPS2 system is not fit for purpose. This is the fifth time this has happened to us and each time we are told it will never happen again. To add insult to injury a letter has arrived from Cegedim today telling us we need to upgrade to a new system in November!

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

and they said technology was the way forward...

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

All these electronic systems are great but what happens when the lights - or, as in this case, the server - goes off? Pharmacy teams have to face torrents of abuse from unhappy patients and, because it wasn't an issue with the spine, we also lose credence in the eyes of GPs. #epsfrustrated !

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

The days when a pharmacy could function without electricity probably pre-dates when the majority of practicing pharmacists joined the register. Like much of modern life we are dependent on online access. Accept it and take steps to minimise your vulnerability by using a system that is more robust than the majority in use today.

A Hussain, Senior Management

I invested in Analyst and it works great with EPSr2.  Unfortunately our local surgery has 'opted out' of EPS and we are left back in the dark ages.

I do wonder if its down to the fact that they own a pharmacy and I have too many nominations!?

Gursaran Matharu, Community pharmacist

Totally unacceptable, I had to use Summary Care Records and EPS R2 tracker to provide acute scripts and urgent repeats. But ultimately had to request paper FP10s from local GPs. I personally find Pharmacy Manager totally unfit for purpose, no wonder they didn't bother to turn up at the London EPS R2 training events for pharmacists!

Pillman Uk, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

It will be interesting to see where the issue lies.

EPSr2 is quite a complex beast relying on many interfaces across numerous organisations.

So do we say its a cegedim issue rather than an EPSr2 ?

Ultimately all the teams work together to try and resolve the issue, but I think the take-home message is that eps is robust for the work it does and the messages it deals with.

Currently our local surgery cant issue eps, but thats a connection issue rather than a spine issue

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Yes, it is a Cegedim issue! All the problems with EPSr2 are implementation issues due to some (but not all) pharmacy system suppliers bolting EPS onto old pmr systems. At least one system is reliable and does not suffer these difficulties.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

I still maintain that EPSr2 is a fragile, flawed system. When it works it is sort of OK but when it fails it is Community Pharmacy that is left to sort the considerable mess out….at present with no compensation for the increased work.

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

No SLA so no urgency on Cegedim and their 'partners' to resolve the problem in a more timely manner. So whats new.

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

EPSr2 is not fragile, it is robust and works exceedingly well. We do 80% of all items via EPS2 and never have any problems.  Suggest you see my comments above and use a competent system supplier

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

As we are now captives of the less than perfect EPS systems, is it not time that EPS failures automatically resulted in financial compensation to Pharmacies affected from the system providers?

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Clive, for once I agree. Since the fault with this business - critical system lay with the provider, it would seem only reasonable that they compensate for the "inconvenience"

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

That would be a good idea except who is at fault.  As a user of the far superior Positve Solutions PMR system Analyst we have not experienced any such issues.  Maybe you should talk with your PMR provider and get compensation from them or move to a software system that actually works

Sachin Badiani, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

This is down to the implentation. The messaging broker sits on your Positive Solutions Terminal. Whereas for other suppliers, there is a separate server which collects the EMessages, and passes them to the different pharmacies.

RX Web had the same problems last year... Am surpirsed that Cegedim RX have fallen down.

This Summer, we should at least see the "Claim Amendment" feature available on both RX Web and Pharmacy Manager.

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