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GPs ‘doing all they can’ for patients in aftermath of NHS malware attack

Some GP practices still lack access to patient records this morning following Friday’s NHS malware attack, with patients urged to only attend urgent GP appointments in parts of the country.

The RCGP said GPs were doing ‘everything within their power’ to minimise disruption for patients following the attack, but asked patients ‘to bear with us if routine services such as repeat prescriptions and appointment booking services are slightly disrupted this week’.

IT comes as NHS Digital said it ‘continues to work around the clock alongside the National Cyber Security Centre, to support NHS organisations that have reported any issues related to this cyber-attack’.

It has issued updated guidance to affected organisations, including explaining the patches required to stop the malware affecting PCs, and responses to frequently asked questions.

Meanwhile GP IT suppliers EMIS and TPP issued statements which said their systems had not been directly affected by the attack.

An update from NHS England in North East and North Cumbria said GP practices ‘will be open as usual on Monday, but many are still bringing their IT and clinical systems back on-line following the cyber-attack which took place on Friday’.

It added that ‘some practices will not yet have full access to patient records, prescriptions, appointment systems and in some cases telephone systems’, and said that ‘as a result the NHS is asking patients to consider carefully if they need a GP appointment on Monday or Tuesday, and if it is something that can be delayed to a later date then to do so’.

The statement to patients continued: ’People who have GP appointments should turn up as normal but please bear in mind that your practice may not be able to access information required to meet all of your needs, you might be asked to return at a later date and things might take longer than usual.

’If you have booked an appointment using the GP online system, it may be that the GP practice has not been able to update their appointment information.

‘If your appointment is non-urgent, you may want to consider cancelling the appointment and rearranging at a later date.’ 

GPs also tweeted their support to leaders of the profession who have worked ‘behind the scenes’ to help sort out problems over the weekend.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said in a statement: ‘GPs and our teams around the UK are working hard and doing whatever is within our power locally to minimise disruption so that we can provide ‘business as usual’  – or as close to it as possible – services to our patients [on Monday].’

She said that included many GPs attending their practices on the weekend to install the necessary ‘patches’ to bring the malware under control.

She added: ‘Because GP practices do not operate on just one system, there is local variation in the support and advice being offered to GPs, but some CCGs have issued guidance and are updating GPs directly via text message.

‘The College is issuing its own guidance for practices and patients and our Health Informatics Group is in regular contact with NHS Digital who have told us that they are focusing on getting primary care services up and running as normal.’

Addressing patients, she said: ‘GPs, of course, can still diagnose and treat patients without using computers but we ask our patients to bear with us if routine services such as repeat prescriptions and appointment booking services are slightly disrupted this week.

‘In the meantime, we wish to reassure patients that your GP will be there for you as usual if you are taken ill and that you will receive the best possible care from the NHS, despite the current difficulties.’

A statement from EMIS said: ’There is no evidence to suggest that EMIS Health systems have been compromised or impacted as a result of this incident. Our main clinical system, EMIS Web, remains fully available.

‘We are preparing to support customers returning to work on Monday morning, in particular GP practices who have issues when their surgeries re-open.’

TPP’s statement said: ‘There is no evidence to suggest that SystmOne or SystmOnline have been affected by ongoing incidents…

‘TPP is offering support to NHS Digital and NHS England during this time. TPP advises all SystmOne users to follow the advice of their CCG and CSU leads and contact them if necessary. Users that require any other specific SystmOne advice are advised to follow their usual helpdesk procedure.’

Meanwhile, GPs and other NHS workers were questioning the silence on the matter from health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

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