Connecting for Health (CfH), which runs the £12.4 billion National Heath Service (NHS) National Programme for IT has confirmed that problems with a software upgrade in Manchester led to hundreds of duplicate patient records being created.
The glitch will add to concerns about the security of patient care records and uploading and handling of patient information onto the national NHS data spine – issues that are part of a current inquiry by the Commons health committee.
The existence of duplicate records could lead to doctors receiving incomplete clinical information where updates have been made to a patient's "other" record.
The problem followed a scheduled upgrade to the iPM patient administration system carried out across all Greater Manchester NHS organisations on the weekend of 21 to 22 April. The update was the latest in a series of upgrades introduced by lead contractor, CSC since the beginning of April
A CfH spokesperson said a problem with the integration of the patient administration system and the Choose and Book outpatient appointment booking system led to some duplicate patient records being created. "We estimate that around 400 duplicate patient records might have been created each day."
He added: "Although comprehensive testing is undertaken prior to the upgrades taking place, it is not unusual for these kinds of upgrades to identify teething problems in the early stages following implementation."
The system was being continually monitored throughout each day, with data from records identified as duplicates being merged to form a single record for each patient, the spokesperson said. CSC had identified the root cause of the problem and was developing a permanent fix.