The governor of an NHS Trust based in Northamptonshire has indicated his belief that problems with a national NHS email system has led to patients in the region missing appointments.
William Miller, one of the governors of the Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, suggested that the new email system does not work adequately with some email servers across the country.
In particular, NHS patients with Virgin Media or NTL World email addresses are not receiving all emails sent out by the NHS trust, and have missed appointments as a consequence.
Miller outlined some of the problems that the Northamptonshire NHS trust has faced as a consequence of this email issue.
“During the last six months the failure of the NHS email system to interact properly with certain email domains for example NTL World and Virgin Media has led to serious breakdowns in the relationships between governors and directors of our trust (due to the failure to transmit important reports before governors meetings), to failures in communications between the trust and its membership, to failures in communications between governors and trust staff.”
Miller went on to illustrate some of the difficulties this has led to, and what he perceives to be the cause of the problem.
“This has led most seriously to the disruption of people’s healthcare due to patients missing psychiatric appointments due to failed email communication. This problem has been confirmed to me both by our administrative staff and by our professional IT staff yet we are powerless to do anything about it because it is a national computer systems problem.”
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, based at St Mary’s Hospital in Kettering, is responsible for care delivered outside of hospital and in the community across the county.
Physical, mental health and speciality services for both adults and young people are delivered by this specialist foundation trust.
It is clear that one of the most important individuals in Healthcare in Northamptonshire believes that the job of the trust is being conducted inadequately owing to IT errors.
With this in mind, Miller has already written directly to the Minister of Health appealing for an investigation into the problems, with the Health and Social Care Information Centre being a particular target.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre is responsible for NHS IT systems, and Miller believes that it should conduct an investigation into the matter and concoct an appropriate solution.
A spokeswoman for the Health and Social Care Information Centre acknowledged that there had been a difficulty, outlined the cause of the problem in question, and reiterated that experts at the centre were investigating the matter diligently.
“We are aware that some users of NHSmail are experiencing problems with emails reaching external recipients. This is a result of emails being “blacklisted” by certain internet service providers. We are working with those providers to ensure this issue is resolved as soon as possible.”