A culture amongst some NHS staff of sharing passwords

The Scottish Parliament has recognised a “a culture amongst some NHS staff of sharing IT usernames and passwords”, according to a report in The Scotsman.

It says:

“Health professionals and the Scottish Government, giving evidence tothe committee, pointed to greater levels of security and traceabilityof access to electronic portal systems compared to traditional paperrecords. But they also acknowledged “a culture amongst some NHS staffof sharing IT usernames and passwords”.


It’s not an encouraging comment at a time when the national roll-out of NHS Connecting for Health’s NPfIT Summary Care Records in England is gathering pace. 


This is from the  report published this month by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee:

“Both health professionals and Scottish Government officialspointed to the greater levels of security and traceability of access that anelectronic portal system provides over a traditional paper record.

“There was recognition however, of a culture amongst some NHS staff of sharingIT usernames and password.

“This was especially true amongst junior doctors inbusy hospitals where it had arisen as a matter of convenience as a result ofbusy medical staff needing quick and almost continuous access to hospital ITsystem.

“The issue of locum or temporary staff gaining access to hospital ITsystems for short periods of time was also a problem that had given rise tothis culture.”


Opting out of Summary Care Records – NHS Connecting for Health

Is NPfIT Summary Care Records scheme feasible – UCL – IT Projects Blog

Summary Care Records rolled out too quickly – Healthcare Republic

Will action by London GPs enfeeble Summary Care Records? – IT Projects Blog

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I am sure it is no surprise to many that it is often the IT systems that implicitly encourage password sharing. If two people use a computer then the switch process is more like logging out and logging back in again in Windows than the instant switch you see behind a bar or with point of sale systems.

Procedures too often encourage this system. As a junior doctor it was routinely a week before I ever received my pass around the hospital and so for the first few days, when nobody knew my face, I would bang on the door and be let into sensitive locations. I am sure systems have not changed.

24 hour cover for lost passwords/cards and instant issuing of credentials is expensive and difficult but unless there are no situations where sharing a password is acceptable then a culture of acceptance will develop.