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Cegedim EPS outage 'stretching goodwill'

Contractors have been experiencing EPS issues since Monday

Pharmacists have resorted to using paper prescriptions following another day of disrupted usage

A fault with system supplier Cegedim has caused problems with the electronic prescription service (EPS) that is “stretching the goodwill” of GPs and patients to the limit after three days of disrupted usage.

The problem began on Monday morning (June 6) and prevented pharmacies from downloading prescriptions throughout the day. Contractors told C+D that the issues continued in some areas into Wednesday (June 8).

Pharmacists at Widnes Pharmacy in the north west of England said the disruption was "stretching goodwill to its limits".

Resorting to paper prescriptions

Leeds pharmacist David Hawkin told C+D that GPs were forced to use paper prescriptions and were “not happy about it”.

Kent contractor Amish Patel said his pharmacy had also resorted to paper prescriptions, which was “not ideal” for already over-pressured GP surgeries.

Amanda Smith, manager at Heath Pharmacy in Halifax, said the outage was “not acceptable” as many people rely on the Cegedim system. “Thank goodness we are in a position to get paper scripts quickly from local surgeries,” Ms Smith added.

Cegedim told pharmacists via an automated message on Wednesday that the system was working as expected, although the company said 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.

Cegedim managing director Simon Driver told C+D yesterday that it “apologises to our customers for this disruption”.

Your Shout: How have you dealt with the EPS outages?

Chris Armstrong, community pharmacist

We have only been able to intermittently download EPS release 2 scripts all day on Tuesday. We have had to supply over 50 items as emergency supplies. This is the fifth time this has happened to us and each time we are told it will never happen again.

Gursaran Matharu, pharmacist

Totally unacceptable. I had to use summary care records and the EPS release 2 tracker to provide acute scripts and urgent repeats. But ultimately had to request paper FP10s from local GPs.

Clive Hodgson, community pharmacist

I still maintain that EPS release 2 is a fragile, flawed system. When it works it is sort of OK, but when it fails it is the community pharmacy who is left to sort the considerable mess out….at present with no compensation for the increased work.

 


Have you been experienced EPS problems this week?

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37 Comments

Raymond Lee, Community pharmacist

Surely if Cegedim is failing to deliver its contractual obligations, then it would be appropriate for contractors to terminate the contract with them?

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

Unfortunately companies like Cegedim force us to sign contracts that have clauses like "due to the nature of the service they cannot guarantee that the service will continue to perform in line with the service description" or words to that affect.  This is why we need an SLA that can still have the non-guarantee of service insisted on by service providers, but with some sort of financial penalty when the service breaks down.  Otherwise as end users we are stuffed!  I've heard discussions about an SLA started over 2 years ago between HSCIC and system providers, but like the whole EPS project and earlier deployments it will happen when system providers can be bothered and not before.  You will notice the one body that seems to be missing from those discussions that actually might have contractors interests at heart.  The good old PSNC.  What was the point of the consultation with contractors done by Pwc earlier this year working out costs and asking how good or bad the service was perceived by staff if PSNC not even at the table.  Rant over........ for now.  

Kiran Patel, Community pharmacist

I have had no internet connection since Friday morning and therefore have not been able to not only download electronic scripts but even to transmit orders to wholesalers.

Although having a FULL hardware and software insurance with Cegedim they DID NOT want to send an engineer down to look at our system. They kept fobbing me off and even insisted I go and purchase a RJ45 cable (which I did) swop it but this did not do the trick. Afetr a lot of persistance they agreed to send a BT engineer down to look test the BT line on Saturday morning ( when all hell was breaking around us) who said the problem was a faulty router !!!!

I now face this orning with a lot of uncertainty about whether Cegedim will respond to the BT engineer's findings and face yet another day without internet connections.

Cegedim are in clear breach of their maintenance contract but will wriggle out of their responsibilities.

I will be looking at my contract to see how I can get away from them without being hit finacially.

DO NOT TRUST THIS COMPANY

Pharmacy HLP, Manager

look into this solution

But your system supplier seems at fault it is not the functionality of EPS2

We had a similar problem with Proscript rx systems about a year ago then again after some helpful soul dug up the local telephone exchange and stole the copper wiring. Since then we haven aid for and  installed a constant  4g internet connection that kicks in and iverides the fixed broadband.

 

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

Yes there are issues with EPS specially and the billion pound NHS supercomputer in general but come on Cedegim, the Pharmacy Manager software is so stone age. Its flaws have no place in modern day computing. Pharmacies running Pharmacy Manager suffered more . Pharmacy Manager is like driving an elephant in a Formula 1 race. These guys should up their game with this software

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

I'm sure improvements will be on their roadmap.  Whether their roadmap is actually based on this country and this planet only they will know.  'Cause no-one else can figure it out.  There are definite flaws with EPS even when things are not in a state of collapse like this past few days.  Take the time to sort out CD2s and CD3s - that was due to HSCIC and the system suppliers etc and could have been sorted earlier if they had got rid of the need to have quantities in both words and figures.  Seriously!  Thank goodness that particular problem should be resolved soon as another contributer has said.  However that will increase the capacity needed to cope with all the Tramadol et al scripts that will suddenly be let loose on the spine.  Good luck to the MHSs the day that happens.

Tired Manager, Community pharmacist

This happened approximately three times per month for about 10 months with RxWeb until their major upgrade which has, thank god, so far worked beautifully. I think by the end with 87% of EPS prescribing in our area we gave out well over 1200 emergency supplies. Tips are: use EPS tracker to death to track regular repeat prescriptions - whilst it doesn't show you details of what was prescribed it does show the number of items which can really help. Also, GPs can print & fax "duplicate tokens" to supply emergency medication (e.g antibiotics etc..) until the EPS is reset (our GPs are not readily prepared to re-prescribe on paper)... Good luck all, feeling happy not to be revisiting those dark dark days :)

Chaan Iqbal, Community pharmacist

We are getting prescriptions down now, but have found that some are "stuck" on the spine. Manually trying to download it using the prescription tracker to find the barcode gives the error of the prescription being with another dispenser, which is lists as us.

To try and minimise strain on GP's side, we requested they print the patient tokens off for us, and have essentially done emergencys using them untill the EPS prescriptions will actually come down.

If it remains unresolved we may end up having to request gps cancel the stuck prescriptions and re-issue them

 

I personally quite like EPS, i acknowledge it has some flaws but so does paper based prescriptions if you think about it (Not signed, missing, illegible etc)

The bigger problem i think this time, is not that it was down for a day neccesarily but the fact there are prescriptions that are still not coming down from the down period, despite newer issued ones since then being fine.

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

we have now supplied over 200 items as emergency supplies and have over 40 eps2 forms PWAD ( with another dispenser )

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Have you considered calculating your additional costs due to this failure and sending an invoice to Cegedim for the sum?

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

It doesn't have to be this way. Get a system that works!

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

And when the electronic prescription is released to you, you will have to reprocess everything in order to get paid. Oh joy!

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

The apology from SD is completely hollow.  He reckoned a couple of years ago with another Cegedim debacle this type of thing would never happen again.  I have been saying for a number of years we on the pharmacy side of EPS need an SLA with some teeth so that Cegedim can be held more to account everytime something like this happens.  Perhaps a sesion in front of a parliamentary committee investigating why NHS IT particularly EPS does not work, and has never worked properly, might focus the minds of those involved - Pharmacy system suppliers, Message handling brokers, HSCIC (or what they will morph in to on the 1st of July), BT, KC, etc etc.  I would willingly stand for parliament and love to be the chair of that particular committee if it was ever likely to happen!

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

Please do not confuse EPS with Cegedim software!  EPS pharmacy systems such as Analyst are fantastic. Maybe if all the people who have problems with a particular software provider switched to someone competent we wouldn't have the complaints we do.  As far as the HSCIC response to outages I feel that any system not fit for purpose should be re-evaluated and maybe even removed from the market

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

A Morris Minor with big wheels and a V8 engine.... but at heart still a Morris Minor. Ours crashes at least three times a week.

Mark Ashmore, Superintendent Pharmacist

If it really does crash every then day then you need to stop just accepting it. If a multiple start ringing your IT dept every morning and afternoon until they do something and complain to your area manager that it is affecting patient service. If independent ask PMR service desk to sort it out and if they don't within a few days ask for a complete reinstall. If not claim "breach of contract" and lookelsewhere.

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

Nothing wrong with a Morris Minor. Gets me to work every day.

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

.

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

On the same day you set out?

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

You did make me chuckle!

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Pharmacists were utterly bonkers ever to accept the obviously flawed EPS system that was brought in at vast expense with one sided benefits to the prescribing doctor and none to the pharmacy. I daresay Cegedim will patch up any problems and it'll stagger on again for a few months before falling over, lets hope it doesn't collapse in Xmas week.

Crazy Chemist, Community pharmacist

Yes, it reduces GP burden and increases ours! We have to contantly download and sort out rx. Pay for the ink to print rxs. We have to scan ALL rx's at the end of month to claim payments and check all exemptions are valid. Its a complete farce that has once again been poorly negotiated by our totally incompetent negotiating body. Heads should roll.

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Once again this is down to how your pmr supplier has implemented EPS. With a good system on the other hand.....  Constantly download? - a single button press every hour or so - really irons out the peaks and troughs of prescription flow. Toner to print Rxs - Yes, but our van driver is not visiting surgeries twice a day.. Scan all scripts at the end of the month for payment? - How quaint. EPS can be brilliant. It would be a disaster if it was cancelled (Yes, I know it won't be) due to pharmacists not appreciating the source of their problems.

Crazy Chemist, Community pharmacist

Forgot to mention that CDs cant be done via EPS, some patients come in the weekend or evening expecting their meds to be ready, but because its a CD, they have to go without or sent to out of hrs to get a rx. 

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

I understand an end to the CD problem is just months away.

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Puzzled why I should be down voted for passing on information I have received. Does it mean the downvoter(s) a. does not believe I have been told this or b. doesn't want it to be true?

John Cleese, Production & Technical

Did you miss this, John? "No controlled drugs on EPS until 2018" (http://www.chemistanddruggist.co.uk/news/no-controlled-drugs-eps-until-2018)

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

The pharmacy systems suppliers have agreed that a work around will be in place this year according to HSCIC.  Again talk to your systems providers, its our Pharmacy System providers that are causing the issues not the NHS. As a regular attendee of meetings on EPS I can say that the main frustrations that the NHS, patients and healthcare professionals  have with EPS is the lack of movement from our IT providers and the lack of commitment or interest from us.  How many of the dispondent on here attended the HSCIC funded meetings that were held in every area on EPS, these were paid for by the NHS for private companies to get the training from their own IT suppliers.

Crazy Chemist, Community pharmacist

You clearly dont work in a busy pharmacy where pple come in all the time saying the dr has just sent a EPS rx. Hence constantly downloading. 90% of our scripts are from surgeries of walking distance, hence there is minimal mileage to cover toner costs... which are expensive! Have you never done payment claims? You have to scan EACH token to submit and make declaration! I'm not saying EPS is bad, im saying we should be reimbursed accordingly when our workload has increased and GPs has decreased!!

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

I work in a busy phamacy approaching 8000 EPS scripts/month and it takes no longer for us to claim for scripts than it used to.  The fact that we can process scripts faster than previously is a major time saving.  I wish pharmacists could distinguish between bad implementation by pharmacy IT providers and EPS problems.  As a profession we are being continuously let down by shoddy systems, the main problem in this case is the two major users of Cegidem (Boots and Well) seem not to want to do anything about the issue.  What we need is the people using the systems that cannot do the job to do something about their IT.

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