The NHS electronic appraisals system for doctors has been taken offline after it was found to be vulnerable to hacking.

Ministers ordered officials to take the NHS appraisal toolkit offline for three weeks after a routine security check revealed it was not “sufficiently robust” to deter hackers from accessing users’ personal information.

Given the importance of preserving confidentiality of staff and patient information, it is not acceptable to take any risks

There is no evidence of any security breach or loss of data but the system will not be running until the supplier, the Sowerby Centre for Health Informatics at Newcastle, has addressed the problem.

A spokeswoman said the DH understood NHS employees would be concerned but the decision was taken to suspend the system to “ensure that any level of security risk was dealt with as robustly and as quickly as possible”.

This followed consultation with the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs.

The spokeswoman said: “Given the importance of preserving confidentiality of staff and patient information, it is not acceptable to take any risks. 

“The DH is working closely with the supplier to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible and apologises for any inconvenience this may cause doctors in the meantime.”