• Dozens of GP practices have been without access to most IT systems for eight days
  • Practices have had to revert to paper and fax, with a backlog of referrals building up
  • Link to air conditioning unit failing in a data centre

Dozens of GP practices in West Yorkshire have been without basic IT systems for eight days after an air conditioning unit failed.

A spokesman for Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, Bradford City and Bradford District CCGs confirmed the air conditioning fault occurred on 10 October, forcing the shutdown of a regional data centre.

He initially would not confirm how many GP practices were affected, as the figure has changed over the past eight days but said it was similar to reports made to HSJ that 96 practices had been affected.

GP practices affected had been unable to access some IT services, including email, and have had to revert to paper and fax for referrals, electronic prescribing, and results and tests.

A back-up system has kicked in allowing GPs to view a patient’s electronic records and update the electronic record.

The spokesman said the fault came just before plans to migrate patient data into a new warehouse at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, which was brought forward to last weekend after the air conditioning fault.

He said: ”Whilst this was largely successful, some new issues – associated with the move from an older server to a modern one - became apparent on Monday morning. These have resulted in continued disruption of services.

“Our IT Supplier, eMBED Health Consortium, has brought in additional IT expertise from Dell and Phoenix to help resolve these issues and significant progress has been made.

”Our staff are working closely with GPs and the local hospitals to ensure high quality and safe services are provided to patients. We are identifying and managing any potential clinical and quality risks to ensure patient safety.

“We are asking people using health care services across the district to be patient especially with staff at their GP practices as practices tackle the backlog of work.”

Fast track processes have been put in place to deal with urgent cancer referrals.

The spokesman did not indicate when normal IT services would resume.