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All is not well in the changeover of digital certificate technology providers used to transfer pathology results within the NHS.

In May this year the original provider Royal Mail ViaCode closed its digital certificate operation citing slow development of the market and a failure to reach profitability.

The NHS Information Authority selected EDS as ViaCode's successor and set a timetable for the transfer. he ViaCode PKI was to be switched off on August 13 and the EDS system was supposed to issue new keys from August 19.

A month later and the service still isn't up and running. The latest NHSIA bulletin on the PKI migration notes:

"Integration testing is still running behind schedule due to both technical difficulties encountered and response times from the managed service provider; communications have now been further formalised and all parties are committed to completing the testing in as short a time as possible."

The NHSIA expresses a low confidence 'aim' that the service will be available from September 30, or soon thereafter.

The six-week (absolute minimum) outage in the PKI services will have a knock-on effect. The NHSIA has mposed an internal deadline for local projects to complete end-to-end testing of the paths service, from Labs to GPs, for the end of the year. But delays at the NHSIA/EDS end will make this very difficult, perhaps impossible to achieve. Currently, there is no sign that the NHSIA is prepared to relax this deadline, insiders say. ®

External Links

Implementing National Standard Pathology Reports Messaging - links to NHSIA documents on the issue

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Digital certificates for UK pathology results
Royal Mail pulls plug on ViaCode digital certificate
Royal E-Mail backs security service with a £100K bond

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