The Department of Health has abandoned work on an Open Exeter pandemic flu system in favour of developing the National Pandemic Flu Service.

Open Exeter, which enables web-based access to the NHAIS (Exeter) system, is already used by a wide range of bodies within the NHS and a pandemic flu application was in development. The NHS had planned to make the pandemic flu application available to data controllers with responsibility for granting access to an Exeter system in the event of a pandemic being declared.

The decision to stop deployment of the solution has been criticised by Wayne Walters, an NHS IT manager in Hertfordshire who said he was concerned the functionality that would have been delivered by the Open Exeter solution would not be provided through the NPFS.

Walters sits on the strategic planning group for Open Exeter and said the group had commissioned Exeter to develop the flu pandemic system.

He told EHI Primary Care: “Exeter had developed the system by May and training courses were advertised for June and then the DH pulled the plug on it. It makes me very angry that a system developed by PCT staff and clinicians and public health doctors and that has this important link with the Exeter system has just been stopped.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told EHI Primary Care: “Preparations for the National Pandemic Flu Service replaced the work being done on the Open Exeter pandemic flu solution in May this year as there was an urgent priority to provide a fully functioning online and telephone service to help ease the pressure on the NHS.

“We expect to continue to develop the effective, resilient solution which the NPFS has provided since its launch last week, rather than return to working on Open Exeter."