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Doctors warn failing NHS IT systems ‘undermining’ patient safety

“Failing” IT systems in the NHS are a threat to patient safety. medics have warned.

Doctors and nurses should not “tolerate problems with IT infrastructure as the norm”, according to a new editorial, published in The BMJ.

Experts from Imperial College London and University College London point to an incident in which IT systems at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust – one of the largest hospital trusts in the country – went down for 10 days.

The outage, caused by the July heatwave, led to procedures and appointments being postponed for a number of patients.

The new editorial highlights how IT failures can restrict services as doctors are unable to access records and are prevented from ordering diagnostic tests.

This can “bring a halt to the everyday business of healthcare”, they said.

The authors suggest that the NHS IT infrastructure is “crumbling” and leads to “poor user experiences” as well as patient safety incidents.

“Increasing digital transformation means such failures are no longer mere inconvenience but fundamentally affect our ability to deliver safe and effective care – they result in patient harm and increased costs,” they wrote.

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Source: 10 November 2022


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