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The waiting game

GPs suffer email issues after NHS worker accidentally messages everyone

GPs suffered severe issues with their emails today, after one user accidentally sent an email to 840,000 NHS staff using the NHS Mail system.

NHS Digital, which manages the system, said the issue was further made worse by people hitting 'reply all' to question why they received the message.

It said in a status alert: ’An issue with a distribution list has meant that several test emails have been widely recieved by users.

'This has been exacerbated by recipients replying in response and increasing the volume of emails associated with the list.’

A spokesperson said a 'number of email accounts have been operating slower than normal', with this 'due to an NHS Mail user setting up an email distribution list which inadvertently included everyone on the NHS Mail system'. 

They later clarified that the issue had arisen because 'a bug in the supplier's system, inadvertently included everyone on the NHS Mail list.'

They said that the issue was expected to be 'rectified soon', adding that 'as soon as we became aware of the issue, we deleted the distribution list so that no-one else could respond to it'.

GPs took to social media to vent their frustration.

Twitter user @Paul77C, who said they were a GP in West Yorkshire, suggested the sender had been a senior IT worker.

 

Readers' comments (23)

  • There are two main things that concern me about this little problem (aside from picking through 200 odd emails to find the real ones).

    Firstly, the article implies this was not someone who sent the message to the whole NHS by mistake, rather 'a bug in the supplier's system, inadvertently included everyone on the NHS Mail list.' NHSmail is supposed to be a secure system for sending potentially sensitive patient information between health professionals. Imagine if this had not been a test email but one relating to a clinical matter about a specific patient. It does not bear thinking about.

    Secondly, it has been widely estimated that the carbon footprint (in CO2 emissions) of an email is between 0.4g (for spam) and 4g (genuine email). By my calculations the initial email alone, going to 840,000 people, generated 340,000-3.4m grams of CO2, or about 7,600-76,000 moles (at 44g/mole). At room temperature this equates to 183-1,830 cubic metres of CO2. If my maths is correct (and do please check it) then this has been a very damaging day for NHSmail. More scarily, the 200 or so replies-all have made that more like 36,000-360,000 metres cubed. Now this seems impossible but I have checked my maths and invite others to do so - happy to be proven wrong.

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  • I thought that for the first time the entire nhs has finally talked to one another. It was amazing seeing everyone's job title. Truly diverse.

    - anonymous salaried!

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  • so many 'non-jobs' exposed for the first time

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  • Everyone that used the "reply-all" button should be removed from nhs mail forever more because they are not intelligent enough to have it.

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  • Rather ridiculous parochial headline. I work for the NHS - not as a GP - and lo and behold, I was affected too! Will we soon be getting "earthquake strikes New Zealand - GP on holiday spills beverage"?

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  • I'm not a GP and have had dozens of them so far. I do have sympathy for the person who sent the initial e-mail, and it would have been no big deal for everyone to simply delete it.

    The problem was really caused by all the people who used the "Reply to All" button, each one presumably being sent to the 840,000 accounts again!

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  • Anonymous | Work for health provider14 Nov 2016 8:28pm

    ...This is a very misleading title.


    Welcome to Pulse!
    Anything bad about GPs is mentioned in passing and spun as evidence of the pressure on practices, anything good about GPs is highlighted much more.

    This is in no way a criticism of the immensely hard working people in primary care, just of Pulse's astoundingly biased editorial style...

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  • -Thing happens to whole NHS population.
    -Population, in this instance, includes GPs

    Thing has happened to GPs!!! Quick, fire up The (Pulse Patented) Large Headline Collider!!!

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  • I received this email too, but I can obviously understand why GP's would suffer more than me!

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  • i deleted all e mails without opening it . one should know how to recognize familiar e mail . it could have been a spasm so why open it?

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