Health Minister pulls the plug on NHS IT Service

Local GP Dr Charles West has condemned Department of Health inept management.

Yesterday afternoon, with no notice, a web-based computer service used by all doctors for their annual appraisals was withdrawn on the instructions of Mike O’Brien, Minister of Health.

Dr West said:

“The NHS Appraisal Toolkit is the system used by doctors throughout the NHS to maintain the quality of their practice, and ensure that they keep their skills up to date. This is the busiest time of the year for appraisals and doctors rely on having access to the reports that they write and store on this system. To have them suddenly removed without notice and without consultation shows how out of touch government ministers are with the workings of the NHS.

“This particular computer service is nine years old, and had not been fully tested for security risks for some years. As part of routine security testing a possible security weakness had been identified. There had been no breach of security, and patient data are not recorded on this particular system. Technical staff running the system say that knowing the potential problem would have allowed them to monitor it for any incorrect usage. Nevertheless the Health Minister decided that the service should be shut down without notice and with no explanation. As a result doctors all round the country will have to cancel or rearrange their schedule of annual appraisals.”

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