Hospital IT problems won't affect care

A LEADING surgeon at Ipswich Hospital today reassured patients that a problematic computer system was not affecting clinical care.The introduction of a new patient administration system (PAS), a major IT system which records patients' details, appointments, admissions and discharges, has caused unrest at the Heath Road Hospital because of its failure to cope with the busy hospital's demands.

A LEADING surgeon at Ipswich Hospital today reassured patients that a problematic computer system was not affecting clinical care.

The introduction of a new patient administration system (PAS), a major IT system which records patients' details, appointments, admissions and discharges, has caused unrest at the Heath Road Hospital because of its failure to cope with the busy hospital's demands.

Since its introduction in April it has caused delays with waiting times, struggled to cope with high levels of staff logging-on and takes longer to use as not all of the information staff need is displayed on one screen, as it was with the old system.

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


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Ian Scott, the director of information and technology at the hospital, is invited to a meeting with Suffolk County Council's health scrutiny committee at Endeavour House, Russell Road tomorrow after he wrote a report that the hospital has reached “a satisfactory level of function and stability”.

He said there had been problems but that the new system “has no direct effect on clinical care.”

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He said: “Although there have been delays in dealing with appointments and sending of letters, I am certain that there has been no significant impact on care delivery.”

Mr Scott, a consultant colo-rectal surgeon, said the main problems were:

N traffic volume causing technical problems

N staff training not being up to scratch and staff not adapting

N delayed performance reporting

N changes to booking in patients and recording admissions and discharges causing problems for staff

His report said: “The new system required changes in some processes involving booking of patients, recording admissions and discharges for example.

“In some areas, there was a reluctance to embrace these changes, and the trust has had to bolster staff in some areas where it is evident that the necessary processes have taken longer than before.”

Accident and emergency was one of the worst hit departments, with patients being forced to wait while staff battled with the new technology. Departments including A&E and the fracture and trauma clinic put up notices behind reception desks asking patients to bear with staff.

N What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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