Final farewell to the legacy system

In November, we waved goodbye to the last remaining MDIS terminals – a legacy system that has been used to process prescriptions since 1985.

MDIS (McDonnell Douglas Information System) was used for capturing information from the monthly NHS prescription batches submitted by dispensers and to calculate prescription payments.

Watch the video here.

The system dates back to the Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA) days when and data was entered manually from paper prescriptions. At its start it was seen as a revolutionary alternative to what had previously been a pen and paper process. And at its peak, there were 13 processing sites, 44 servers and 1,450 terminals processing monthly cycles of prescriptions.

Over the years MDIS has gradually been replaced by the more modern and efficient CIP (Capacity Improvement Programme).

At the end of the month the final few areas – Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man, abated accounts, out of hours and private accounts – were migrated over to new platforms and MDIS was decommissioned.

Past and present members of the team – some of whom have worked with the system for 25 years – will be sad to see the chart and the original terminals retire and still have fond memories.

Mick Clark, former Senior Analyst Programmer, said: “For IT Support one memorable period was Category D, which necessitated the reprocessing of an entire month’s prescriptions over one weekend in January 2000. I’m retiring when the system goes. So my IT career will end the way it began, as a Cobol programmer.”

Neil Pragnell, Professional Lead (Project Management & Business Analysis), said: “I fondly remember the complexity of the code for calendar pack rules, which were a specialism in their own right! It is testament to the system that something that has been operational since 1985 has still been fit for purpose for its business use.”

Vicky Bailey, Service Deliver Manager – Prescription Services, said: “The terminals are the originals dating back to 1985, when staff were still allowed to smoke at their desks (surrounded by stacks of paper prescriptions!) and they still bear that yellow cigarette colouring. It’s been a pleasure to work on the transition. I’m proud of the work that we have done and the high levels of accuracy and proficiency from the team.”

Paul Swanston, former Data capture support, said: “I appeared to have an aptitude for computerised working and was therefore brought over to the IT training team to help data capture staff move from written prescription processing to computerised processing.

“The servers were replaced in 1995 and again in 2005. These same terminals are still attached to the legacy servers in Bridge House, well over 20 years old and merrily processing away – a testament to the huge number of NHSBSA staff and engineers who have maintained them over the years.

“As an aside, I was advised that when built there is a small amount of gold used in the build – probably not enough to make you rich though!

“Many people have personal stories and memories from their time working on the systems, including couples who met and married working together.”

Susan Gardner, Team Manager, said: “I was Team Manager of the Islands Team from 2006 until 2018 and was involved in the transition from the old legacy system to the current CIP system. The team and process has changed many times over the years and always found the Islands Health Authorities to be very supportive with implementing any changes.”