Feeds

NHS Toolkit takedown will inconvenience docs, not patients

Medics and sec-experts assess 3-week sicknote

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Analysis Patient care will not be affected by an NHS decision to pull a doctors' appraisal website offline to improve its security, but the life of UK doctors will be complicated.

The return of the NHS Appraisal Toolkit, which provides an online database that allows NHS doctors to prepare for their annual appraisals, is not due until 3 March. The removal of the resource means the assessment of the performance of 27,000 hospital doctors and GPs who use it will almost certainly be delayed, the GP who was the first to tell us that the site had been laid low explained.

"There is no back-up for those doctors using the system," the family doctor, who asked not to be named, explained. "They have been told they can phone the helpline and have their forms emailed to them (but not to their appraisers). Some but not many may have local copies on their desktops. Otherwise, it's a question of trying to get the info and keeping your fingers crossed."

The timing of the closure coincides with the run-up to appraisal deadlines for many doctors, so it could hardly have come at a worse time for many medics.

"Deadlines are technically fluid, but there is a contractual obligation for GPs to engage in a Primary Care Trust's appraisal process, which would normally run from April to March," the doctor explained.

"Hopefully PCTs will be amenable to date changes, I understand that there is a message from the Dept Health for them to be flexible. Otherwise the appraisals this year could be a bit of a waste of time as the info won't be available to either party. If they are rescheduled, that is all well and good, but many people will be at best significantly inconvenienced."

He added that some doctors may be forced to pay for locum cover to cover rescheduled assessment meetings. Despite the inconvenience and potential expense to doctors, patient care ought not to be affected.

"An important point though is that if appraisals don't happen, no one will be suspended or have to stop working, so patient services should be unaffected," the doctor explained. "In fact I would stress that, patients should be unaffected by this problem."

The doctor described the unscheduled suspension of the site as another example of an "NHS IT mess-up" and speculated on the reason for the suspension, which may be related to a move to upgrade the site to support more modern browsers.

"Whether it is related to the NHS mostly (almost exclusively) using IE6, I don't know. I hope there hasn't been an actual security breach because I suspect many doctors have potentially sensitive information in their appraisal documentation," he concluded.

The Department of Health said on Tuesday that the site was suspended as a precaution after an audit highlighted possible security shortcomings. It stressed that no breach had taken place, which is just as well because the site is a treasure trove of highly sensitive medical data containing information on doctors' performances alongside named patient data including near diagnosis mistakes, critical incidents and the like.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
Intel sees 'signs of improvement in the PC business' but earnings remain 'Meh...'
Prospects for the future, however, please Wall Street money men
What's a right pain in the ASCII for IBM? Its own leech-like hardware biz
Keep your eyes on our cloud while we remove this pesky thing, say execs
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.