Department of Health provides £260m for hospital electronic
17 May 2013
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a new £260 million
fund for hospitals to implement electronic prescribing systems for
improving patient safety.
These systems enable hospital doctors to send computer generated
prescriptions directly to pharmacies, with an identifier unique to
each patient, cutting errors and improving safety.
The announcement is in response to the Francis report, which
called on the NHS to make better use of technology to improve safe,
effective care. Last year at least 11 people died in the NHS because
they were given the wrong prescriptions. This fund will be used to
increase the use of technology which will help stop drugs being
prescribed incorrectly because patients notes have been lost.
Errors in prescriptions are present in as many as 8% of hospital
prescriptions and studies have shown that the use of technology can
cut these errors by half.
The fund will help protect patients by ensuring that doctors and
nurses are able to access accurate details about the care of a
patient. And it will make a patient’s journey through different
parts of the NHS much safer, because their records can follow them
electronically wherever they go.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "This fund will allow doctors
and nurses to make the NHS safer by harnessing the very latest
technology. In many places, right now, a paramedic picking up a
frail elderly woman who has had a fall will not always know she has
dementia, because he or she cannot access her notes. Or a doctor is
prescribing the wrong drugs, because they don’t know what drugs
their patient is already on. If we are to improve patient safety
then we must allow the NHS to have access to the best tools
available and this fund will help them achieve that."
The fund will be used by hospitals to replace outdated paper
based systems for patient notes and prescriptions, and is a critical
stepping-stone in helping the NHS go digital by 2018.
Tim Kelsey National Director for Patients and Information within
NHS England said: "We are delighted to be working with the NHS, DH
colleagues and frontline NHS staff to ensure that this fund enables
the NHS to make substantial progress towards routine use of high
quality data at the point of care."
"This step change in integrating diverse information sources
around the needs to the patient will support clinicians and provider
organisations deliver world class patient care."
The fund will also be used for creating electronic systems,
linked to patient records, that talk to each other right across
hospitals. Like the system at St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust, who
have all of their patient records accessible online for doctors and
nurses at the click of a mouse. Another example is the system at New
Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where an online ‘portal’
allows patients to view and update their own medical records so
doctors can get instant, real-time updates.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England said:
"This new fund will help patients get better and safer care by
giving clinicians access to the right information when they need it
"Supporting hospitals to replace outdated paper systems for notes
and prescriptions will help relieve patients’ frustration at having
to repeat their medical and medication history over and over again,
often in the same hospital, because their records aren’t available.
"Expanding the use of electronic prescribing of medications in
hospitals will help improve safety, save lives and save taxpayer’s
NHS hospitals can bid for the money to fund projects but in order
to be eligible, they must demonstrate that these will lead to
better, safer care.