MPs call for NHS IT investment



MPs are set to demand action on the 57,000 NHS operations that are cancelled each year because of under-investment in IT systems.

A report from the...



MPs are set to demand action on the 57,000 NHS operations that are cancelled each year because of under-investment in IT systems.

A report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) due this summer is set to back criticisms by the National Audit Office (NAO) that bed managers do not have the information systems they need to do their jobs.

Speaking after a session where MPs grilled NHS Executive chief executive Sir Alan Langlands, PAC chairman David Davis said, "There is no doubt IT will make a difference."

The NAO report on patient admissions and bed management, released in February, found that operations cancelled for non-medical reasons on the day of admission or afterwards - in the main due to poor bed management - had reached a record level of 57,000 a year.

But the NAO says cancellations could be reduced to almost zero using IT, which has happened at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

The NAO report said, "Information within NHS trusts on which beds are occupied, who is in them, and which are available is often inaccurate, out of date and time-consuming to obtain."

In acute care, 92% of NHS trust bed managers could only find out which beds were occupied by physical inspection and by telephoning wards. This often meant walking miles around huge sites.

Following the committee hearing, a spokesman for Langlands said, "We want to make sure the excellent work which goes on at Shrewsbury is replicated elsewhere."

But Andrew Marshall, product manager for Sema-Helix - a system which builds on the work of the Royal Shrewsbury - said investment was being held up by unnecessarily complicated procurement procedures used by NHS trusts.

This was last published in April 2000

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