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IT glitch leaves GP patient records incomplete at thousands of practices

A glitch in an IT system used by GP practices has resulted in documents being left out from patient records, NHS England has warned.

The Docman IT system – which is used by approximately 6,000 GP practices – automatically processes letters received by practices through NHSmail and adds them to the patient records.

But according to an NHS England alert, problems with version 7 of the software have resulted in documents not being automatically uploaded to the electronic patient records. The issue will have impacted practices whose systems have the electronic document transfer function enabled.

The BMA GP Committee called it a ‘seriously concerning situation’ and urged NHS England to ‘establish whether patients have been put at risk’.

In an alert from NHS England, practices using this software were told to download and install additional software, made available by Docman, to help them identify if they have any unprocessed records.

Practices will need to review such documents and check the electronic patient records to ensure they have been filed successfully.

NHS England has also asked practices which do identify unprocessed documents to undertake a clinical risk assessment using a form created for this issue, and share the outcome with their CCG.

The alert said: ‘We understand there may be workload implications arising from this issue which need to be addressed.

‘A delay in managing documents could have had adverse clinical consequences and we are currently discussing these issues with the BMA’s GP Committee.’

An NHS England spokesperson added: 'GP practices and the BMA are working with NHS England and NHS Digital to assess the extent of the issue and any potential impacts, as well as corrective actions.'

The GPC has since launched a survey for practices to complete, in order to estimate the extent of the impact.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘This is clearly the latest in a number of examples of patients and GPs bearing the brunt of technological failings. It is obviously a seriously concerning situation and we are pressing NHS England to urgently ascertain the scale of the problem, and crucially establish whether patients have been put at risk.

‘While plans to immediately address the issue have been put in place, NHS England must further ensure practices are adequately resourced to manage the additional workload involved and recognise both the disruption this may have to service delivery and the anxiety it may cause for patients.’

The news comes as practices could be up for major changes to their IT systems next year, as NHS Digital is due to launch a re-tender for contractors providing patient record systems.

Readers' comments (3)

  • pregabalin the dustbin drug for hopeless cases.

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  • oops that was meant for the fibromyalgia copperfield article.

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  • The docman10 'upgrade' we found very difficult to use. Too many fixed windows mean many documents are too small to read and do not have a zoom function. Upgrade teams solution: everyone should get 23' screens. Not helpful. I'd caution about accepting the upgrade until they have resolved these issues and given adequate training.

    In addition we have many records where all attachments are in incompatible format and cannot be read. Nothing to be done except find papper records (off site and even then not always present) and rescan them.

    Some obvious safety issues. But I'm not clear the safety impact is properly grasped by non clinicians.

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