Relief at NHS Cerner sites as Coalition relaxes 18-week target?

After the go-lives of the NPfIT Cerner Millenium system at Kingston Hospital NHS Trust and St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, not everything has gone smoothly. One of the problems has been keeping track of all patients and their appointments.
 
So the two trusts have every reason to be relieved that the new Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has signalled an end to centralised management of the 18-week target.

In opposition the Conservatives promised to scrap government waiting list targets; and Lansley has said he’ll end all targets that don’t have a clinical justification.
 
He said they’ll be no more  top-down performance management of the 18-weeks referral to treatment target. 
 
Indeed the  website of the Department of Health that was set up to explain why the 18-week target is important to patients is to close down this week.
  
The relaxation of the  18-week target means that Kingston, St George’s and some other trusts won’t have a mandated duty to keep track of patients from the time they are referred for treatment by their GP to the start of their treatment.
 
Barts and The London, which  went live with Cerner Millennium in 2008, went more than a year unable to report on whether it was complying with the 18-week target.  At one point it lost track of more than  14,000 patients, only to find eventually that all of them had been outside the 18-week target.
 
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Now that the targets are going, or being relaxed, will it matter when hospitals lose track of hundreds or thousands of patients, especially after the implementation of new systems?
Links:
Kingston success? –  Projects Blog 
Milton Keynes CRS “near melt-down” – E-Health Insider

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18 weeks target relaxed, but its not removed from the NHS constitution, meaning its still a patients right.

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In the light of these changes does Mr Lansley not need to ensure each NHS Trust/PCT has an indentified

Constitution Champion.

They should sit on the board and report patient issues,otherwise all this will end up in the complaints section preventing more serious issues from being highlighted and lessons learned.

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The 18 weeks waiting times in Sounthampton worked well when I had to undergo surgery in 2009. I am waiting for an appointment with a consultant requested by my doctor in June 2010. The ENT service in Southampton has been opted out to the private sector by the PCT and so far it is not working well we can all thank the new coalition government for an even worse state than before. They have in their wisdom scrapped the 18 weeks waiting lists perhaps they can aford private medical care while the rest of us still wait on in misery

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Without the referral to treatment target it is going to be a challenge to achieve efficiencies. Some other measure will have to be in place to enable clinicians and managers to understand their effectiveness and efficiency performance. It is understood that there may be / have been an overload on process and I would certainly agree that the culture of the DH and NHS corporate management is informed by process thinking. However to think the absence of any tracking tool is ok is equally naive. It seems the SoS and his advisers do not understnad productivity.

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the 18 weeks target is a nonsense! I first saw a surgeon in August 09 for a nose op and I am still waiting but it is on for October 3 - a Sunday! So 14 months is not 18 weeks.

I also need a jaw operation and saw the same surgeon in August 09 and have no idea when I will get surgery so once again the 18 weeks is a nonsense.

so why do I have these long waits if there is an 18 weeks target?

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