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Electronic referral system switched off after ‘continuing’ IT issues

Electronic referral system switched off after ‘continuing’ IT issues

An electronic referral system has been turned off for SystmOne practices in Essex after it kept crashing practice computers putting clinical data at risk.

The Local Medical Committee said they had campaigned for TPP’s iRefer system to be switched off completely after months of problems with no solution in sight.

In a letter to practices, Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of North and South Essex LMCs said there had been continuing issues caused by the introduction of iRefer by the acute trust.

He said the LMC appreciated the efforts taken by colleagues in primary care and the ICB to fix the issue, but more time was needed and in the interim the service must be shut down ‘and only reinstated when it is no longer clinically dangerous and has been properly testing in primary care’.

Practices were also asked by the LMC to ignore requests to provide evidence of the problem until they were clear that it was needed ‘and that the supplier (TPP) is not merely trying to drag its feet over this important problem’.

Pulse reported last week that Mid and South Essex ICB were aware of practices reporting issues when ordering diagnostic tests and using iRefer.

Initially this was being treated as a local incident, but it had later become apparent other areas of the country had been reporting similar problems, the ICB had told practices.

Practices had been repeatedly asked to provide evidence of the issues but Dr Balmer told Pulse the LMC had been aware of the problem, which involved computers crashing when clinicians tried to use the systems for at least three months.

He said: ‘iRefer has caused major problems with the primary care clinical system of TPP (SystmOne), which covers virtually all practices in South Essex.

‘The clinical system at practice level has frequently crashed without warning thereby threatening clinical data.

‘We have campaigned for iRefer to be switched off and this is currently being implemented, if belatedly. This followed a long period where no solution could be found.

‘We will insist on proper piloting prior to its re-introduction.’

TPP were approached for comment.