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January 11, 2006

NHS data spine failures shake doctors’ confidence

Outages in the UK's NHS data spine created problems for the doctors during the final week of 2005 and have further shaken the confidence of medical professionals relying upon centralized and regional equipment.

By CBR Staff Writer

According to a report by Computer Weekly, the NHS’ new data spine, described as a backbone of the UK’s National Program for IT (NPfit), was down for 28 hours during the week ending January 1, 2005.

Described by Connecting for Health as a building block of the NHS Care Records System, the spine is being designed to hold the records of some 50 million patients. The spine holds demographic information and summarized clinical information such as allergies and patients’ adverse reactions to drugs. A further function of the spine is to provide an interface between local and NPfit systems.

As a result of the recent outages, it is reported that some doctors were prevented from carrying out their usual work.

Worryingly, the problems have continued beyond these outages, with doctors and IT staff reporting that they are still encountering problems logging into national systems through the spine.

According to Computer Weekly, the organization confirmed that institutions had encountered problems with the spine, saying, NHS Connecting for Health can confirm that some of the NHS organizations using our systems and services have been experiencing some intermittent interruptions with one part of the spine service, with slow response times when accessing PDS.

NHS Connecting for Health is said to be working with suppliers to resolve these issues and to restore the spine to its normal standard of operation.

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