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Croydon worker causes NHS mail system meltdown by accidentally sending email to 800,000 people

Croydon worker causes NHS mail system meltdown by accidentally sending email to 800,000 people
Nov 17, 2016 Shaking Hands 0 comments
This post was first published by The Croydon Advertiser on 16/11/2016

Croydon worker causes NHS mail system meltdown by accidentally sending email to 800,000 people

An IT contractor in Croydon reportedly inadvertently brought the entire NHS mail system to a halt on Monday after accidentally emailing more than 800,000 employees.

The error was confounded by many recipients using the reply all function, which contributed to the NHS mail system being overloaded, meaning most NHS staff around the country could not send or receive messages.

One user claimed that as many as 186 million “needless emails” had contributed to the system grinding to a halt.

The error prompted NHS staff to frustratedly post to social media.

Neuroscientist Abigail tweeted: “Oh dear, someone has crashed our work emails by sending an email to everyone in the entire NHS directory. Good start to their Monday.”

Paul Carrotte tweeted: “Going to be a long day in #NHSmail as a senior ICT delivery facilitator seems to have sent an email to everyone in the whole NHS.”

The email, which NHS Digital said was sent to 840,000 accounts, was blank other than “test” in the subject line.

On Monday, NHS Digital could not confirm to the Advertiser whether the email was sent by a contractor in Croydon.

But the IT worker has been named in the national media as Roslyn Learmond, from South Croydon, who had meant to be testing a system for local GP practices.

She declined to comment on the incident at her address yesterday, but NHS Digital said the email outage was not Ms Learmond’s fault, but instead was instead due to a “system supplier”.

A spokeswoman for NHS Digital, who had to dictate a statement over the phone rather than sent it by email due to the problems, said on Monday: “Some users have experienced short delays in the NHSmail system this morning. Action has been taken to resolve this issue.

“A number of email accounts have been operating slower than normal due to an NHSmail user setting up an email distribution list which inadvertently included everyone on the NHSmail system.

“As soon as we became aware of the issue, we deleted the distribution list so that no one else could respond to it. We anticipate that the issue will be rectified very soon.”

The spokeswoman has since clarified that the system has returned to normal.

“The emails were disrupted on Monday and a huge backlog significantly slowed down the servers,” she said

“It was a fault with the system supplier and the focus now is to find out exactly what happened.

“We are currently assessing the full impact on the NHSmail service and any onward impact this may have had on wider NHS services.”

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, which runs Croydon University and Purley War Memorial hospitals, and Croydon Council confirmed the contractor was not working for them.

The Advertiser has contacted Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group for comment.