In July 2022, HSIB launched a national investigation into the safety risk of clinical investigation booking systems failures. Specifically, the investigation explores the use of paper or hybrid booking systems and the production of appointment letters. This interim bulletin highlights a safety risk identified by the investigation and presents a safety observation for the attention of NHS care providers. Some vital NHS services still use paper-based or hybrid systems, which may have been developed over time and could leave unintended gaps where patients can be lost in the system.
The reference case for this investigation is the experience of a patient whose magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan was not rescheduled following a cancellation, leading to a delay in the diagnosis of cancer. Hybrid systems were in use, which did not assist staff to keep track of patients. Additionally, the hybrid systems in use did not allow appointment letters in non-English languages to be produced.
It may be beneficial for NHS care providers to explore options for the translation of written appointment communications, including pre-attendance guidance, for patients whose preferred written language is not English.