NHS IT led to ‘disturbing’ incidents, says patient head


NHS IT led to ‘disturbing’ incidents, says patient head

Tony Collins

The head of a patient group at the first NHS trust in London to go live with the BT-supplied Cerner patient administration systems as part of the national IT scheme, has warned that trusts will receive complaints from patients when they go live with similar technology.

Alex Nunes, chair of the Patient and Public Involvement Forum for Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust, said there had been "disturbing" incidents after the trust went live with new systems under the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

"Whoever's fault it is, it is the patients who are suffering," he said. "A lot of trusts are going to get stick from their patients. I should have thought that those responsible would have the capability of delivering what was required and making sure that it did the job intended."

Nunes said that the hospital had sent letters to some people asking them to come in for operations when they did not know anything was wrong, and others who were expecting to be invited for appointments did not receive letters.

Nunes said he did not blame the trust for the difficulties, and he fully supported the NPfIT, which he said was a courageous plan that could lead to a "tremendous improvement" in the care and treatment of patients.

But he warned that with troubled implementations "there is a danger of taking one step forwards and two steps backwards".

Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals went live in July with the R0 release of software from US healthcare specialist Cerner. It was the first implementation by BT in London of Cerner's Millennium system under the NPfIT.

Diabetes patient, Fred Ciccone, told his local newspaper he felt like a ghost after staff were unable to access his medical records on a visit to Edgware Community Hospital.

Remon Gazal, then director of IT at the trust, did not underplay the difficulties for some patients. He said that there have been some significant improvements as a result of the go-live, and workarounds have been developed for defects that have an operational impact.

The trust's suppliers had made no comment as Computer Weekly went to press.

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