NHS e-mail systems hit by surge

Users have called on BT's Syntegra subsidiary to improve its back-up procedures following a week of disruption to the NHS e-mail...

Users have called on BT's Syntegra subsidiary to improve its back-up procedures following a week of disruption to the NHS e-mail system.

A firewall failure at an undisclosed BT datacentre on 1 September caused e-mail delays for thousands of NHS professionals. Syntegra managed to clear the backlog of queued messages last weekend.

Laurie Miles, IT leader of St Helens North Primary Care Group, said, "This is an unacceptable level of performance from Syntegra. You would expect a company of its size to have back-up servers that will kick-in."

Miles, who said it took three days to send an e-mail to an address outside the NHSNet last week, believes that Syntegra may need to improve its procedures. "It doesn't seem to have redundancy built into its systems to make them fault-tolerant," he said.

Department of Health officials said the firewall was destroyed by a power surge from an electricity supplier, causing severe disruption to external mail from the NHS to the Internet.

At its worst, there were over 80,000 queued messages, causing disruption across the Health Service.

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