Government agency Connecting for Health attacks NHS users for "inaccurate" reporting of incidents

After attacking the media for inaccurate reporting of aspects of the National Programme for IT [NPfIT], NHS Connecting for Health, which runs the programme, has accused some NHS trusts of “inaccurate reporting” of incidents that involve NPfIT systems.


NHS Connecting for Health’s criticism of some trusts follows articles in Computer Weekly, which are based on internal documents, of major incidents at trusts after the go-live of systems installed under the NPfIT. The incidents were each given a “severity one” or “severity two” rating. and reported to Connecting for Health.

A Severity one service failure is one which, in the reasonable opinion of NHS Connecting for Health, the contractor, or a National Health Service system/service user has the potential to:

– have a significant adverse impact on the provision of the service to a large number of users; or

– have a significant adverse impact on the delivery of patient care to a large number of patients; or

– cause significant financial loss and/or disruption to NHS Connecting for Health, or the NHS; or

– result in any material loss or corruption of health data, or in the provision of incorrect data to an end user.

A Severity two service failure is one which, in the reasonable opinion of NHS Connecting for Health, the contractor, or a national health service system/service user has the potential to have a significant adverse impact on the provision of the service to a small or moderate number of service users; or

– have a moderate adverse impact on the delivery of patient care to a significant number of service users; or

– have a significant adverse impact on the delivery of patient care to a small or moderate number of patients; or

– have a moderate adverse impact on the delivery of patient care to a high number of patients; or

– cause a financial loss and/or disruption to NHS Connecting for Health, or the NHS which is more than trivial but less severe than the significant financial loss described in the definition of a Severity one service failure.

Criticising some NHS trusts Connecting for Health says on its website:

“Inaccurate reporting by NHS trusts of severity one and severity two incidents inflates the initial number of incidents which are recorded and progressed by the National Service Desk.

“For example, approximately 15 per cent of both severity one and severity two incidents which were reported to the National Service Desk over the past six months were in fact identified as being caused by local infrastructure problems. This is hardly surprising given the heterogeneous and complex nature of the infrastructure in many hospitals and GP practices.

“Similarly 5 per cent of severity one and 10 per cent of severity two incidents were downgraded upon investigation, that is, their impact had been incorrectly assessed at the time they were originally reported.

“NHS Connecting for Health appreciates that these factors, along with the high level of usage of our systems and their importance in the NHS, creates an environment in which we will continue to prosecute a robust Service Management framework which defaults to over reporting of problems in order that they can be properly aired.

“We believe that this is in line with industry best practice and that it would be unfortunate if inaccurate reporting were to begin to lead to a culture of under reporting of incidents with a commensurate degradation in the quality of root cause analysis.”

Related articles:

1) Duplicate patient records on Choose and Book, 200 major incidents in four months, and unnecessary NPfIT secrecy

2) Duplicate patient records in Manchester – the risks and how it happened

3) Is government trying to control information on problems after NPfIT go- lives?

4) National newspapers follow up Computer Weekly’s article

5) Some examples of “Major Incidents”.

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