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Patient fears over NHS IT delay

17th May 2007

Patient safety could be put at risk by continuing delays in the £12 billion NHS IT programme, it has been claimed.

An NHS-funded independent research project has found that staff are still having to rely on old systems and this was not good for patients and their care.

Senior managers spoken to as part of the investigation also believe financial deficits are affecting the NHS IT project, which is the biggest civilian IT project in the world.

It is designed to allow full electronic booking across the NHS, with centrally-held records but it has been hampered by delays.

However, NHS IT managers have rejected the claims that patient safety could be affected.

The independent investigation has been carried out by King's College and Imperial College in London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Bristol.

The lead author, Professor Naomi Fulop of the School of Social Science and Public Policy at King's College, said: “While the delays continue, IT networks are becoming outdated and there is a real risk that patient care could be compromised.?

The major area of concern among those interviewed was about poor communication between Connecting for Health, which is the NHS organisation responsible for delivering the new systems, and trusts and also about the impact of financial deficits on the project.

Dr Simon Eccles, Connecting for Health National Clinical Lead, said that while progress had been slow in some hospitals, those with the greatest need for new systems were being prioritised but he denied patient safety was being compromised.

 

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