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Hospitals wary of patient admin systems, admits Granger

Tash Shifrin

NHS hospital trusts are increasingly reluctant to install patient administration systems that support crucial parts of the £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT), the official in charge of the scheme has admitted.

Richard Granger, chief executive of Connecting for Health, which runs NPfIT, told the Financial Times newspaper that many hospitals would need a new patient administration system (PAS) to support the electronic care record that is a core component of NPfIT.

But because trusts were unhappy with the PAS software and hampered by straitened finances, just 19 of the 43 PAS systems planned for this month had been installed, he said. Contractor BT was having difficulty finding London hospitals willing to install a new PAS next year.

The news comes as the Commons Health Select Committee announced that it would hold an inquiry into NPfIT. NHS chief executive David Nicholson is also undertaking a review of Connecting for Health.

Granger told the FT that a PAS from Cerner offered clinical benefits but did not easily provide reports in the format trusts needed to bill their commissioners, while a product from troubled supplier iSoft could produce the reports but offered few clinical gains.

He said neither PAS did “everything that people want”, adding, “It is not a great time to ask people to take new computer systems. Money is tight, targets are tight, these systems are disruptive and there is not an enormous amount of benefit to trusts at the moment.”

He admitted that NHS trust chief executives were “acting very rationally” in delaying PAS installations.

Granger said there would be “subtractions and additions” to the NPfIT timetable.

“I don't think it is going to get easier. It will continue to be a difficult task,” he said.

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