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Local NHS services remain open for patients

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust logo - New

December 2022             

What happened?

In early August the supplier of a number of national IT systems was subject to an external cyber security attack. This incident disabled access to Carenotes, an electronic patient record system used by a number of Trusts across the country, including Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust

Carenotes enables us to digitally input patient records and clinical notes, and to plan, manage, record and analyse care across a range of settings.

What did we do?

When the incident was reported, we adopted our business contingency processes, which essentially involved manual recording of patient information and other activities. However manual downtime processes are not intended for long-term use, so when it became clear that Carenotes would remain unavailable for a longer period, our IT team worked tirelessly to develop an interim electronic system, called THEA.   This is not a replacement for Carenotes, but from early September did give our staff the ability to digitally record clinical notes and related patient activity. Our teams have been adapting well to THEA, with over 100,000 clinical notes inputted since it launched

Despite this, the impact of losing Carenotes for a lengthy period of time has been significant as we have not had access to of all the information we would normally have on all of our patients. This has led to some disruption in patient care and impacted our ability to access and share key documents with partners which we recognise has had an impact on partners as well.

Where are we now?

There were around 16 Trusts across the country impacted by the loss of Carenotes and there is an ongoing national recovery plan to reinstate the system to all the organisations affected. This involves rigorous testing of Carenotes to ensure it is safe and functioning as expected.

Carenotes became available to us at the end of November, and it is now subject to internal testing by our IT department before becoming available for use again. This is because it will take some time to upload all the information gathered during this outage period and input it back into the Carenotes system.

For information inputted into THEA during this time, we are confident this can be done quickly, but there will be patient and clinical notes which have been collated and stored outside of THEA which will take time to upload to Carenotes. We then have to carry out our own internal testing to ensure the system is where it needs to be ahead of it being released for use across the Trust. As a result, some of our performance data which is pulled from Carenotes, is still unlikely to be available in full for some months yet.

This issue has caused significant additional challenges for our staff who are already under pressure, and we are very grateful for their perseverance and flexibility during this time. We would like to also thank staff and teams from partner organisations for your patience and understanding during this time too.

How might this impact our patients?

Patients are advised that all services continue to run, and there are no treatment or appointment cancellations as a result of this. However people accessing appointments or who use our services may notice some changes at the moment:

  • We may ask you to provide more detail on your medical history to ensure clinicians have the most up to date information. This is because we may not have access to you electronic healthcare record due to these national IT issues
  • We may contact you to confirm details of a forthcoming appointment
  • And the method by which we contact you may be different, for example we may call you rather than sending you correspondence by post

If you have any concerns or questions please contact our Patient Liaison Team

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