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NHS England warns of GP smartcard renewal backlog

13 June 2022

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Access to GP systems and services could be delayed if smartcards are not renewed in time, NHS England has warned.

Some 140,000 smartcards are due for renewal on Monday 27 June 2022, NHS Digital said.

Those affected have been alerted via an automated message that said they have one month to review, and urging them to self-renew ‘as soon as possible’.

In a recent NHS England primary care bulletin, NHS Digital said it expects ‘a large influx of NHS smartcard renewal requests in the next four weeks’ as ‘140,000 cards are due for renewal on 27 June 2022’.

If NHS Digital is unable to increase the rate of renewal in the upcoming weeks, it will lead to ‘a rush of users requiring smartcard renewals through the Care Identity Service with increasing urgency’.

This could result in backlogs of renewals and delays in access to systems and services, NHS England said.

It reassured GPs that ‘any impact on the Care Identity Service will not affect authentication and access to clinical systems for users with a valid smartcard’.

NHS England’s bulletin said: ‘Affected users have received automated messages on authentication that they have one month to renew. If you receive this message, please self-renew as soon as possible. 

‘If NHS Digital do not manage to increase the rate of renewal now, it will inevitably result in a rush of users requiring smartcard renewals through the Care Identity Service with increasing urgency. 

‘This could lead to delays in access to systems and services, due to backlogs of renewals being requested for processing by Registration Authorities.’

A smartcard authenticates who a GP or NHS employee is so that he or she can access a range of information and services vital for providing safe, high quality and timely patient care.

In 2019, an IT system failure left some GPs experiencing smartcard authentication errors and unable to access patient records.

It comes after practice managers whose teams still used Internet Explorer to access NHS Digital’s web-based systems were urged to switch browser, as it was n longer supported by Microsoft or NHS Digital from 15 June.

This story was initially published on our sister title Pulse.

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