Waltham Forest GP surgeries struggling with outdated software

Outdated computer systems are “wasting the valuable time” of Waltham Forest GPs and “preventing them from doing their jobs”, a concerned patient has claimed.

Stephen Powell discovered his Highams Park GP is still having to use an outdated version of Windows last week after his doctor spent seven minutes struggling to print one form.

Practices like Handsworth Medical Practice in Highams Park still use Windows 7, which Microsoft created in 2009 and stopped officially supporting for almost all users in January.

A spokesperson for the borough’s clinical commissioning group (CCG), which decides how NHS money is spent, said a widespread bug affecting printing may be the cause of the problem.

However, they added that they are on track to have all Waltham Forest GPs upgraded to Windows 10 by mid-January 2021.

Mr Powell said: “I had an appointment at (Handsworth Medical Practice) and my doctor advised me that I needed a blood test.

“After trying and failing to print off a blood test request form for seven minutes, he told me that their system constantly crashed as they were still being forced to run on Windows 7.

“You can understand my disbelief… (this) is wasting the valuable time of our doctors and nurses and preventing them from doing their jobs.”

He also raised concerns that the fact Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft since January 14, meaning no security updates are provided, puts patient information at risk.

However, a CCG spokesperson said the company has a “national agreement with the NHS” to continue supporting medical staff using the programme, meaning there is no such danger.

They said: “We are currently working to improve IT assets at all of our local GP practices in Waltham Forest.

“Those not already on Windows 10 are on course to be upgraded by mid-January 2021.”

Following the publication of this article, they added:  “We’re sorry to hear about this patient’s experience and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“We cannot be sure what the specific problem was at the GP practice but our GPIT support team has indicated that it is unlikely to be an issue with Windows 7 – for which the NHS has a national agreement with Microsoft for continued support.

“We have asked our GPIT support team to liaise with the practice to look at how best to resolve their particular problem.​

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter