Clinicians at Waikato Hospital are travelling across town so they can physically eyeball patient files at general practices after a cyber attack locked them out of their own computers.
Since the Waikato DHB's IT systems collapsed almost two weeks ago, Hamilton East Medical Centre GP Dr Tamatoa Blaiklock has been spending a large amount of time chasing up referrals and appointments.
He has also had clinicians cross the river to visit the large Hamilton practice to read patient notes off his and his colleagues' computer screens.
"We are talking about clinical nurses in mental health and people like that just double checking doses."
It had also been a big help that a number of GPs had an app where patients could access their files and then pull these up on their phones during DHB appointments.
Blaiklock felt the disappearance of the DHB's IT system meant there was a heightened risk of things slipping through the system.
Usually GPs would use an online system to make patient referrals - but with the IT systems down - that channel had gone and with it the ability to follow through what was happening with them.
He had referred a patient to a cancer specialist in mid-May and was yet to hear if they had been seen within the recommended two week guideline.
"There are no feedback routes at the moment so we are having to create our own feedback routes which is just a whole lot more time and energy. And we will be having to constantly check that over the next few weeks."
GPs were now relying on the phone which was challenging as a number of times his call hadn't even made it past the DHB's switchboard before dropping out.
Other GPs agreed there was a lot more admin and paperwork to deal with.
Pinnacle Health network engagement and communication director Marie Simpson said many of its 46 Waikato practices were also feeling the flow on effect caused by the DHB's IT outage.
"Practices are experiencing an increase in admin, along with increased time to do an acute referral. This is due to needing to go 'paper based' – e.g. increased admin tasks as patients request paper copies of things to present at the hospital."
In addition to the extra paperwork, the Waikato DHB emergency department is only accepting urgent patients in an attempt to take pressure off the service. Non-urgent patients are being pushed back to their GPs or an after hours emergency clinic.
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Sarah Dalton told the Herald last week that its doctor members were very aware their inability to access computer systems meant they were putting extra pressure on the GPs out in the community.
"Certainly their colleagues inside the hospital are very aware of that - that their colleagues out in the community are being put under extra pressure as well."