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This week Dinah tears her hair out over IT and misses one meeting too many


Stressful morning. Early start – mission to pick up papers from PCT then rush back home just in time to prevent IT man being poisoned with suspect coffee by kids. An hour later and remote access to my practice computer is finally sorted despite Norton firewalls and dodgy WiFi. Start testing set-up but mobile goes: practice manager wants to know

why I'm not at surgery. Patients waiting 45 minutes already (as confirmed by appointments now accessible on laptop). What happened? Check Blackberry again but IT meeting definitely diaried.

Arrive at surgery to find six glowering patients in waiting room. Running an hour late. Drinks machine on order; should we get a massage chair too? About to get going when PCT secretary phones – where am I, they are waiting to start orthopaedics meeting (also not in Blackberry diary). Give up, send apologies for everything and settle down to listen to today's catalogue of complaints from particularly disgruntled patients. Sorry, sorry... Desperately hope for no referrals as I don't have three hours to spare for Choose and Book...


PCT day. Blackberry still not working – no e-mails coming through. What will I do in meetings? – hate doing only one thing at a time. Check performance report on Choose and Book – yes, it would be great if it worked but national technical problems still not resolved so it loads too slowly and crashes. I've been sending screen shots to IT helpdesk for weeks, plus letters from our GPs refusing to use it – will it ever change?

Meetings over and Blackberry now sorted but inbox blocked so waste another hour. Try to streamline my six different

e-mail accounts by forwarding but end up creating looping messages and block inbox again. Tear hair out but remember bald patch and resort to dictating complaint letters instead.

Practice manager on phone (oh no, I forgot our meeting). Need to sort out practice website, promise to review QOF figures at home tonight instead of booking holiday on internet (note: mustn't delay too long as will miss cheap tickets).


Acute trust meeting. Trying to set up

e-mail consultation service but consultants not happy – worried about whether it will be secure. Surely NHS mail isn't too complex for their IT department? One local GP set up a trial NHS mail account for consultant with cheeky security questions ('who's your favourite GP?'): it only took two minutes.

Intended to take half day but have backlog of e-mails and paperwork so cancel hair appointment.

Total time wasted by IT problems this week: seven hours. Meetings missed: five (so why do I still never have any time?)

Apologetic PCT secretary cannot type complaint letters as transcriber broken; probably just as well – chuck tape in bin and go to travel agent.

Dinah Roy is a GP in Spennymoor, chair of Sedgefield PBC group and co-PEC chair of County Durham PCT

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