Pharmacists have described the fall-out from last week’s IT system failure as a “nightmare” that has left them still unable to access some electronic prescriptions.
A fault meant that pharmacies using system supplier Cegedim were unable to download electronic prescriptions from the evening of Wednesday, April 8 until the following Saturday morning. Contractors told C+D yesterday (April 13) that they had still not received prescriptions sent during this period.
Cegedim, which claims to supply more than half of UK pharmacies, told C+D the disruption had been caused by “a change made [by] BT”. “This outage was not something that our technical consultants had ever seen and was quite unique in its impact,” said managing director Simon Driver.
The company was aware of “a small number of messages” on the central NHS IT system that had not been sent and said that these would be released “today” (April 14).
Chris Armstrong, owner of Armstrong’s Pharmacy in Sheffield, told C+D on Monday that his business had not still not received “a whole bunch of scripts" that were assigned while the pharmacy had been unable to access the electronic prescription service (EPS).
Mr Armstrong said his pharmacy could potentially have to dispense hundreds of items for prescriptions it did not have, which “could bankrupt us”.
“All we can do is lend medication to patients. We have no idea whether we will get the scripts to cover them,” Mr Armstrong said. “This is definitely the worst I’ve known,” he added.
Stuck in limbo
Amanda Smith, manager of Heath Pharmacy in Huddersfield, told C+D that scripts were “stuck in limbo from last week” and could not be downloaded as they were listed on the system as “with another dispenser”.
Amish Patel, manager of Hodgson Pharmacy in Kent, said the business was back “up to date” after the disruption, but he had discovered “lots of errors on prescriptions” as well as missing and cancelled items.
Mr Driver told C+D today (April 14) that Cegedim had updated its customers by email about the disruption and its service desk had “remained open past normal working hours”. He apologised for the impact on customers and patients, and said the company would review its communication channels.
“A full cause analysis is being delivered to us by our suppliers that we will act upon to prevent this event occurring in the future,” he said.
Cegedim had also invested more than £2 million in a facility to provide “additional resilience to the service”, which it hoped to commission in early 2016, Mr Driver added.