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Call for EPS outage solution after problems persist

Cegedim has been working "around the clock" to fix problems

Some pharmacies were still experiencing problems with their Cegedim EPS systems as late as Friday


Pharmacists have called for a solution to a fault with electronic prescription service (EPS) system supplier Cegedim after an outage early last week left businesses with a backlog of prescriptions.

Some pharmacies using Cegedim software were unable to download prescriptions for 24 hours over last Monday (June 6) and Tuesday, while others told C+D they were still experiencing problems as late as Friday.

"Stuck" prescriptions

Cegedim told C+D today (June 13) that it has been "working round the clock" to remedy prescriptions that have become "stuck" as a result of the outage.

It has been collaborating with the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC)  to rectify affected pharmacies and prescriptions, it said. It is planning to issue a "barcoded solution" to individual pharmacies with "clear instructions" on how to re-request affected prescriptions, it added.

In its own update on the outage, issued last Friday evening, HSCIC said Cegedim was reprocessing some of the affected prescriptions, with work on this expected to carry on into the weekend. HSCIC would continue to assist Cegedim in this, it added.

“We just want an end to it”

Pharmacists at Widnes Pharmacy in the north west of England told C+D on Friday that their local GP surgery was refusing to reprint affected prescriptions.

“We don’t mind the backlog. We just want an end to it and a solution,” they wrote on Twitter.


The previous day, community pharmacist Chaan Iqbal said that although his pharmacy was receiving some prescriptions on the system, others had to be manually downloaded from the spine after becoming "stuck".

"If [the issue] remains unresolved, we may end up having to request that GPs cancel the stuck prescriptions and re-issue them," he posted on the C+D website.

"Back to normal"

Some pharmacies found that the outage had been resolved over the weekend.

Amanda Smith, manager of Heath Pharmacy in Huddersfield, told C+D today that the pharmacy's EPS issues had been sorted, after having resorted to asking its local GP surgery to print EPS tokens three days earlier.

Kent contractor Amish Patel told C+D today that his EPS system seemed to be "back to normal".


What caused the outage?

Cegedim Rx suffered a service interruption on its message broker in England on the evening of June 6, the company told C+D. The message broker manages the transfer of electronic prescriptions from GP surgeries to the NHS spine, and then on to pharmacies, it said.

The fault was thought to be rectified when it was initially diagnosed, but subsequently reoccurred, Cegedim said. The system then had to be “temporarily halted due to the backlog of traffic” caused by the fault, it said.

It took “some time” to restore traffic. This was done in stages to “monitor and control” it and get the service “fully and safely back to normal online operation”, Cegedim said.

Pharmacies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were not affected, it stressed.


Are you still experiencing EPS problems?

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C A, Community pharmacist

Finally got a 'fix' this afternoon, which involved manually reseting all the scripts, so guess what I spent my evening doing in my own time...

R Patel, Community pharmacist

Well! it's 6.30 and the message now is that it will be another 48 hours before we can retrieve our stuck prescriptions. Since there is no constructive information coming out of Cegedim, it's time for all users of their system to collectively ask for compensation.Last week was really difficult  with every other patient coming in and the same excuse being relayed, phoning the surgery for details of script, doing an 'emergency supply' and all this to do when already staffing levels being tight as the holiday season has started.

What do the high levels of maintenance costs paid to cegedim provide us? This same issue has happened several times before but has taken this long to fix, are they really working round the clock?

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

we currently have 84 eps2 scripts stuck in the system. that is approximately 250 items. we have had to emergency supply all of these items to patients. we are still waiting for the scripts to be reset.

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

Chris you are not alone.

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