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NHSmail - update

17 November 2016: Background briefing on the NHSmail issues of Monday, 14 November

As has been widely reported, users of NHSmail experienced significant slowing of the system on Monday 14 November.

NHSmail is the email platform used by the majority of NHS staff in England. As such, it is a significant communications mechanism for many NHS staff. We recognise and apologise for the inconvenience this delay will have caused.

The incident was caused by an issue within the Dynamic Distribution Lists (DDL), which resulted in an email intended for a small group of local recipients being sent to users nationwide.

Less than an hour after the original email was sent, we removed both the original email, the DDL and the ability to create new DDLs. However, by this time, a substantial number of "reply all" emails (in response to the original mailing) had already resulted in significant backlogs and delays.

We have instigated a full investigation, including an assessment of any clinical impact this may have had. It would be inappropriate to comment pending the outcome of that investigation. However, our preliminary enquiries have shown that no member of NHS staff was at fault for this incident. It is also worth noting that users who pressed "reply to all" in response to the original email may not have been aware that they were replying to users nationally, given that only a small number of recipient addresses were visible to them. It is also noteworthy that although the system experienced significant delays, at no point did the system crash. Normal service was resumed within 24 hours.

Notes to editors

1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology provider for the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2015/16 financial year, NHS Digital published 294 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better. NHS Digital is the new trading name for the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). We provide 'Information and Technology for better health and care'. Find out more about our role and remit at

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