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Delayed NHS Connect e-mail goes live with minor outages

Lindsay Clark

The new NHS e-mail system supplied by Cable & Wireless has gone live after a week’s delay but suffered minor outages in its first few hours.

Cable & Wireless migrated to the system, dubbed Connect, from an EDS-supplied system over the weekend of 23-24 October.

On Monday 25 October some GPs were complaining that they were unable to log on the service, and that once in, it could take hours to transfer from one message to another.

One GP unhappy about the performance of the service was Laurie Miles, IT lead for St Helens Primary Care Trust. "It was down on Monday, although it did return after a few hours," he said.

"The service is also limited and contains conflicting advice on how to set up an [Microsoft] Outlook client - neither of which seems to work."

The NHS national programme for IT said, "All 95,000 existing NHS mail users were successfully migrated. The Contact service was variable during Monday 25 October with some users being able to access the service without problems and others experiencing difficulties."

The issues were resolved before the start of business on Tuesday 26 October, the national programme said, adding that it was not aware of complaints about the new system’s usability.

Earlier in October the introduction of the system was put back because Cable & Wireless had problems with the speed of data migration.

Cable & Wireless stopped the migration and reverted to the EDS service, the company said. The service to NHS users was not affected and no data was lost.

The £90m contract to deliver an e-mail and directory service to the NHS was awarded to EDS on 26 September 2002, but earlier this year the contract was cancelled because of poor take-up, the NHS said. EDS will be paid £11m in compensation for the contract cancellation.


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