London NPfIT hospitals have 14,000 patients on 18-week backlog

Article on Computer Weekly’s homepage. It has been followed by The Times.

Summary of the article:

IT problems at one of UK’s most respected hospital trusts has led to a backlog of at least 14,000 London patients on a waiting list for treatment.

The backlog affects patients at St Bartholomew’s (Barts) Hospital and The London NHS Trust, which serves two million people in east London, the City, and Canary Wharf.

Barts, which describes itself as world renowned, has 22,000 electronic patient records on its waiting list of people who should be treated within the national target of 18 weeks. Many are duplicates, but at least 14,000 are considered by trust staff to be the records of individual patients.

The trust says dealing with the backlog may mean some patients end upwaiting more than 26 weeks for an operation, in breach of governmenttargets.

Doctors say there are inaccuracies in data, the system can be slow andstaff do not always understand the work-arounds, and the way the systemworks in combination with the trust’s practices.

They add that, unless they fully understand the system’scharacteristics, they may find the data hasn’t gone to the right placefor the patient to be treated.

Barts and The London NHS Trust told Computer Weekly:

 “It has been afrustration for everyone at Barts and The London NHS Trust that ourdesire to meet the 18-week national target has been compromised byprevious weaknesses in our information management and administrationsystems. The Trust has no evidence, however, that any patient has cometo clinical harm because of the backlog.”

Tower Hamlets, the primary care trust which sends its patients to Barts and The London, says there is a risk that the problems at the Barts could affect clinical outcomes when patients are not treated within 18 weeks.    

The 18-weeks backlog at Barts is coming down though. In August it stood at 26, 640.
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