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New NHS IT system causes “heartache” for hospital

13 February 2009

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A new computerised NHS records system designed to link thousands of GPs to hospitals across England has been criticised by a health chief for causing “heartache and hard work”.

The e-records scheme is part of a £12bn IT upgrade for the NHS and aims to connect more than 30,000 GPs to nearly 300 hospitals by placing England’s 50 million patient records on a secure database.

But the chief executive of London’s Royal Free Hospital Andrew Way, where the scheme is being piloted, said problems had cost his trust £10m and ultimately restricted how many patients could be seen by doctors.

Mr Way said he was forced to employ an extra 40 administrative staff to cope with the fall-out from glitches in the system, with the extra cost preventing further investment in new equipment.

He told the BBC: “I think it is very disappointing that the work we had to do as a trust has caused our staff so much heartache and hard work.

“I have personally apologised for the decision to implement the system before we were really clear about what we were going to receive. I had been led to believe it would all work.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said lessons had been learnt from the system’s deployment at the Royal Free, which he hoped would lead improvements in the further.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Royal Free Hospital