Computer system causes hospital headache

PATIENTS are being forced to wait longer and there is growing concern today about meeting targets because of a failing computer system at Ipswich Hospital.

PATIENTS are being forced to wait longer and there is growing concern today about meeting targets because of a failing computer system at Ipswich Hospital.

The hospital's new patient administration system (PAS), a major IT system which records patient details and each contact with the outpatient department, admission and discharge, has failed to cope with demands of the busy hospital.

Accident and emergency is one of the worst hit departments, with patients being forced to wait while staff battle with the technology.

Departments including A&E and the fracture and trauma clinic have notices behind the reception desks asking patients to “bear with” staff because of the new system.

However, the hospital said it hopes the technical problems will be resolved by the end of the month.

Andrew Barber, the hospital's assistant director for service planning and performance, said: “Problems associated with the implementation of the new PAS continue to cause problems in the A&E department, particularly around the time it now takes to process patients.”

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Tracy Dowling, director of service delivery and improvement, said: “In A&E there's been a significant impact from the implementation of the system. It's taking longer to find patient details, and this has a knock-on affect, particularly at busy times, with waiting times.

“Staff are however becoming more familiar and quicker with the system and staff are accepting that they need to adapt how they work.”

The PAS system has been unable to cope when high numbers of staff try to log-on at the same time. It also takes longer to use as not all of the information they need is displayed on one screen, as it was with the old system.

The new system was partly to blame for a bungle which saw wrong operation cancellation figures being made public by the hospital on Wednesday, and has led to the hospital failing to meet elective surgery targets.

The hospital has also come under fire from the Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) which said the hospital is not reporting performance figures, particularly waiting times figures, because of the PAS problems.

The East of England Strategic Health Authority is understood to be working with the hospital to try to overcome the problems.

Have you been affected by the computer problems? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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