DOCTORS and nurses seeing a patient's medical history at the swipe of a screen, GPs alerted to patients sent home from hospital and the threat of lost case notes eliminated.
A lot of faith was placed in multi-million-pound technology as Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust became the largest NHS trust in the country to introduce the new system known as Lorenzo.
With the £5.6m cost offset by an undisclosed payment from the Department of Health, Lorenzo was part of the government push towards a paperless NHS by 2018.
Lorenzo provides an electronic record to chart every patient's journey from admission to discharge and follow-up. Staff can use the system to see vital information at a glance, from referral information by a patient's GP to test results, medication history or allergies and clinical correspondence.
But it has not all been plain sailing as the 8,000 staff at Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham get to grips with the new system.
Some patients on waiting lists have been given just a day's notice to attend appointments, records have not been updated with current information and doctors and nurses, already under pressure to meet treatment targets, complain the system is too slow.
One senior clinician, who is not being named to protect their job, said: "It's an absolute mess. It takes too long and staff are still struggling to understand how it works six months on.
"There are other systems on the market but this is the one we've been landed with and staff are not happy."
Lorenzo was part of the regional replacement IT system for the abandoned NHS patient record system which cost almost £10bn before it was finally scrapped by the Government in 2011.
However, a critical report by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it was still being poorly managed.
While Lorenzo was originally envisaged to store data for 220 trusts across the north and east of England as well as the Midlands, at a cost of £3.1bn, just 22 trusts had been covered at a cost of £2.2bn by the time of the PAC report in 2013.
Issues with Lorenzo are not unique to East Yorkshire's hospitals, but Hull and East Yorkshire is the largest trust in the country to introduce the system.
Mike McNamara's insight:
Why has no one been held accountable to the failure of the NHS Patient Records System and the £10bn it cost?
Planes landing in the UK from areas affected by the Zika virus are to be sprayed with insecticide as part of the government’s response to the outbreak.
Zika, which is spreading through the Americas and can cause birth defects if pregnant women become infected, was declared an international emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday.
No cases of the mosquito-borne virus have been reported in the UK, but two adults in Ireland were confirmed to have been infected. Both have since fully recovered.
The government announced on Friday that, as a precautionary measure, it was asking airlines to ensure that disinsection takes place on all flights travelling to the UK from countries with confirmed transmission of Zika. Disinsection involves spraying an insecticide inside the aircraft to reduce the risk of passengers being bitten by any mosquitoes inside the plane. It already occurs on the majority of flights from the region, as a precaution against malaria. The move is consistent with advice from WHO Europe.
MPs have castigated NHS England and the Department of Health for bad management of the Cancer Drugs Fund, set up by government to pay for medicines deemed too expensive for general NHS use.
The public accounts committee of the House of Commons also says it is unacceptable that the government still does not know whether patients get any benefit from the costly medicines the fund pays for.
About 80,000 people have received drugs through the fund but, says the report: “The Department of Health and NHS England do not have the data needed to assess the impact of the fund on patient outcomes, such as extending patients’ lives, or to demonstrate whether this is a good use of taxpayers’ money.”
The fund was set up in 2010 by the coalition government because of the regular outcry from patient organisations and the media when cancer drugs that typically offer potential weeks or months of extra life to those with a terminal diagnosis were turned down by Nice, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Nice is charged with assessing the cost-effectiveness of medicines. The launch of the Cancer Drugs Fund in effect undermined Nice’s judgments, since drugs it rejected as insufficiently cost-effective were then paid for after all.
In November 2013, we were on our way to Cornwall from our home in Scotland – as it’s a long way, we decided to stop for the night in Lancaster. We pulled in to the Lancaster Premier Inn car park. I got out of the car, closed the door, walked a couple of steps, collapsed and died.
There were no warning signs, nothing. Nothing to suggest I would drop down dead in the middle of a car park.
Fortunately for me, a stranger saw this and dialled 999 while my husband was still realising the gravity of the situation. He didn’t realise I was gone. The first-responder paramedic arrived, guided by more strangers to my side, bringing a portable defibrillator with him. He administered CPR and managed to bring me back after a second shock.
By this point, the ambulance had arrived and I was transferred to Lancaster Royal infirmary. On my way there, they lost me and got me back again before I got to A&E, where I was cooled down and put into an induced coma.
I was transferred to intensive care and spent about three weeks in cardiac care in Lancaster. The doctors still aren’t sure what actually happened – they believe one part of my heart had not been working as well as the other bit. Eventually, I was transferred to Blackpool, where I was fitted with an ICD [implantable cardioverter defibrillator].
STRUGGLING NHS bosses in York are facing an end-of-year deficit of £7.35 million due to a "significant deterioration" in finances.
A meeting on Thursday will discuss the financial problems of NHS commissioners in the Vale of York - which mean the organisation expects to finish the year having spent £11.3 million more than intended.
Among other overspends, Vale of York CCG has spent £6.25million more than planned on York Hospital Trust, nearly £2million on out-of-area mental health placements, and overspent £1.54 million on other providers including services offered by a private hospital.
A financial recovery plan is today due to be considered by NHS England, which is overseeing Vale of York CCG's finances as part of a formal intervention.
Tracey Preece, the chief finance officer, said in the report: "The CCG is currently classed as an organisation in turnaround due to the significant deterioration of the financial position... it is required to do everything possible to improve the position in 2015/16 alongside developing sustainable, recurrent recovery plans for 2016/17."
More than a hundred GPs are being offered £20,000 ‘golden hellos’ as the NHS desperately attempts to avert a recruitment crisis.
They can receive the bonuses if they take up jobs in remote, unpopular areas such as the Lake District, the Isle of Wight and Grimsby.
Surgeries across England are struggling to recruit young doctors as GPs. They are instead opting for more prestigious roles in hospitals. More than a hundred GPs are being offered £20,000 ‘golden hellos’ as the NHS desperately attempts to avert a recruitment crisis.
Figures yesterday showed applications are at a record low despite a major Government publicity drive to promote the career.
The number of doctors applying to become a GP has dropped 5 per cent in a year, going from 5,112 for jobs starting in August 2015 to just 4,863 for posts beginning this summer.
The fall came as a blow to ministers, who have promised to hire an extra 5,000 GPs nationally by 2020 to guarantee more appointments for patients.
I was sitting with my wife one evening when I realised I couldn’t lift my right arm. Both my arm and hand were numb. I immediately suspected a stroke. My sister-in-law had been left paralysed down her right side and unable to speak after a major stroke. We visited her most days to try to help her communicate, and I had read everything I could about strokes.
In fact, we had been discussing my sister-in-law’s situation when I realised my arm had gone numb. I ran through the Fast checks in my mind: there was no pain, no dizziness, no symptoms other than my arm. But I remembered the t in Fast – time – was the most important. I asked my wife to call 999, deciding we could argue later if I was wrong.
A first responder paramedic arrived in about five minutes from his base five miles away in Oakham [in Rutland]. He did vital signs checks and agreed with my tentative diagnosis so called an ambulance to take me straight to the stroke unit at Peterborough, some 25 miles away.
NORTHERN Ireland’s biggest health trust has scored the worst ever NHS performance for seeing patients with suspected breast cancer - with less than one in ten women seen within the fortnight target.
The Irish News has learned the Belfast Trust's dwindling record over the past three months has hit a new low, with just nine per cent of cases requiring urgent consultant assessments seen on time during the first two weeks of January. The government target is 100 per cent.
These 'red flag' patients include women who detect a lump and are referred by their GP to hospital for mammograms or fine needle biopsies within 14 days.
The staggering breach comes as the north's hospital waiting lists show no sign of slowing down despite a £40 million bailout to tackle the backlog through private sector work.
It has also emerged that the Northern health trust massively breached targets in December -when just 11 per cent of urgent breast cancer referrals were seen within 14 day - but are now back on track.
Yesterday's Irish News revealed the latest referral figures from November 2015 "performance reports" by the
Health and Social Care Board, which showed half of suspected breast cancer cases across the north's five health trusts did not get timely referrals to consultants.
But officials at the Belfast Trust have now confirmed the January backlog, which began last summer and was linked to staff shortages and increased demand.
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust yesterday announced it has secured almost £7m in funding to overhaul its energy use in a bid to save £2m in annual energy costs.
The funding, announced yesterday, is being provided by investors DLL. The Green Investment Bank (GIB) is providing £3.4m of investment as part of the £50m NHS energy efficiency funding alliance it established with DLL in 2014.
The money will be ploughed into the Trust's energy efficiency programme, funding the installation of a new 2.5MW Combined Heat and Power system, new energy saving lighting and an upgrade to the Trust's building management system.
The project will be run by Vital Energi, which has a 15-year contract to install and maintain the new technology. The scheme is expected to cut the Trust's energy bill by £1.9m every year, after its completion at the end of this year.
Ed Northam, head of investment banking at the UK GIB, said upgrading the NHS' existing technology will increase resilience of its entire estate. "This programme of energy efficient improvements will save energy, cut costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions without impinging on patient care," he said in a statement.
Some hospitals may look as if they are held together with sticking plaster, but the NHS is actually a hive of new technology. Our reporters assess some of the more innovative work going on across the UK. Donor therapy for children with leukaemia
Later this year, doctors in London hope to start the first human trial of a radical new treatment for children with drug-resistant leukaemia. One- or two-year-old infants will have gone through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, to no avail. The best hospitals can do is make them comfortable.
The therapy is one of the most sophisticated medicine has ever seen. White blood cells – part of the immune system’s frontline defences – are collected from a healthy donor and effectively turned into a drug through genetic engineering. First, they are modified to hunt down their target: a protein that appears on leukaemia blood cells. Next, they are tweaked to make them invisible to drugs that suppress the child’s immune system during the treatment. Finally, the cells are modified again to ensure that when they are infused they do not attack the child.
The NHS is wasting billions of pounds a year through inefficient use of staff, paying over the odds for supplies, “bedblocking” and undue reliance on agency workers, two official reports warn on Friday.
Around 8,500 “bedblocking” patients are stuck in NHS hospitals every day – costing the health service £900m a year and driving up use of the private sector.
An inquiry ordered by health secretary Jeremy Hunt into NHS productivity and use of its resources has found that hospitals in England could save £5bn a year of their £55bn budget by 2020 using measures such as cutting their running costs and reducing unacceptable variations in the quality of care that patients experience.
The review, undertaken by the Labour peer Lord Carter of Coles, claimed that hospitals are not making the best use of their income and need to improve urgently if the NHS is going to make the £22bn a year of efficiency savings it has pledged to deliver by 2020-21.
Three sisters – all of whom developed different forms of breast cancer within little over a year – have recently become the faces of the cancer arm of the 100,000 Genomes Project, which has just begun recruiting cancer patients across England. Answers in the genes?
Mary, Kerry and Sandra Lloyd received surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, a gruelling programme of treatments that they describe as “horrendous”. The sisters have joined the project through the East of England Genomic Medicine Centre (GMC), but there are 13 GMCs in all, recruiting patients from across England.
The Lloyd sisters hope to find out more about their genomes, especially whether they share a gene mutation that has predisposed them to breast cancer – and, if so, whether other family members could be at risk. It is possible that their cancers developed by sheer chance, but their presentation is strongly suggestive of an underlying familial risk.
By comparing their genomes with those of their tumours, and this information with that from thousands of other cancer patients and their tumours, it is hoped that cancer researchers may be able to make fresh discoveries about genetic changes involved in cancer. Mary told the BBC that investigations had not revealed any mutations in the well-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, and so she and her sisters agreed to enrol in the project as "it could help to find a gene that hasn't been identified yet”.
At 11 months old I was a seemingly healthy baby. Everything appeared fine. I wasn’t sickly, I wasn’t ill. The only problem was a slightly swollen stomach.
Mother’s intuition said things weren’t quite right, but the midwife told her to stop being “hysterical”. I was fine. There were no other symptoms. But that nagging feeling wasn’t going anywhere, so Mum took me to the GP, the brilliant Dr Ford-Young in Macclesfield, with her concerns. He shared them.
Within a couple of hours I was having tests in Macclesfield hospital, and was almost immediately transferred and admitted to Pendlebury children’s hospital in Salford. Mum’s suspicions were unfortunately confirmed: I had cancer, a Wilms’ tumour in my kidney.
My parents asked if they should go private, but were reassured that I would be in the best possible care on the NHS, with Mr David Gough as my surgeon. He sadly passed away in 2005: “A genius, and a nice man to boot,” as my dad recently described him.
Within two days of diagnosis, I had surgery to remove the cancer. The tumour weighed 2.2lbs, but it was out – along with my kidney. Everything moved very fast and efficiently, and I was lucky it was caught so early.
People who have travelled to countries affected by the Zika virus will not be allowed to donate blood for four weeks after returning home, the NHS has said.
Zika has prompted the World Health Organisation to declare a public health emergency of international concern. It is spread by mosquitoes but there have been a handful of cases where the virus is believed to have been sexually transmitted, the most recent in Texas.
Amid fears that it is linked to thousands of cases in Brazil of the foetal deformation microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with smaller than normal brains, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) announced on Wednesday that it was implementing “precautionary measures”.
A spokeswoman said: “The safety of the blood supply is paramount and it is important we implement any precautionary blood safety measures agreed here as a result of an increasing prevalence of infectious diseases found around the globe.
Taxing unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as the levy placed on alcohol and tobacco, is an established way of raising revenue for the UK. With sugar now inextricably linked to the obesity crisis, ministers in the UK are being urged to tax it.
However, placing a tax on sugar is not as straightforward as it first sounds. Unlike alcohol and tobacco, there is a clear necessity for everyone to buy and consume food. Sugar is a naturally occurring nutrient, for example in fruit, as well as a more refined product, as on the teaspoon, but seeking a tax that distinguishes between the two can be artificial.
Every Tuesday at 2 o’clock Pat Little receives a visitor. For an hour tea is made and drunk, biscuits are eaten and the world is put to rights.
Pat, 88, receives no medical intervention or prescription when Maggie Lee comes to see her, but there is growing evidence that the weekly visit and thousands of others like it, help to ease pressure on the NHS simply by providing the chronically sick and the lonely elderly with someone to talk to.
“I really look forward to her visits,” said Little, whose husband of 67 years died in in March. “It is a real help for me. It must be awful for people who are totally alone and have no one come and see them from week to week.”
Little needed no persuasion when her family suggested she take up the offer of weekly visits from a befriender at Age UK. For 10 years she had worked as a volunteer for the charity, telephoning the elderly who lived alone, to provide them with some friendship. Then in 2014 she suffered a stroke and was in hospital for three months. Within weeks of arriving home last March, her 92-year-old husband, Sydney, a retired bus conductor, died. For the first time in her life she was alone. This is the NHS - sign up to follow the project The story of one of the most complex organisations in the world, told through the voices of those on the frontline - the Guardian launches a month-long investigation into the NHS. Find out why and sign up for daily emails here Read more
“It is a real pleasure to talk to someone every week. You build up a friendship,” she said. “We have a good natter about the world, about what we have got up to. I am not very mobile since my stroke, and it helps me. It means I don’t tend to go to the doctor so much because I can share things if I have any worries.”
If Ian Hichens wants to go away for a few days, he must book three or four months in advance – not a hotel, but a hospital. Hichens uses a kidney dialysis machine five times a week at his home in Bleasby in Nottinghamshire; it is four feet high and too large to move.
“I can go away, but I have to book a hospital,” he says. It must have a dialysis ward he can use. “It takes quite a lot of calls between hospitals to do it, and it’s [it’s a question of] if they’ve got space.” When staying on the south coast he sometimes has to drive 90 minutes to get to a ward with capacity.
Hichens speaks while dialysing at Nottingham city hospital. He is using the ward so he can appear as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Sleeping Beauty in nearby Burton Joyce, but it also lets him take part in the first human trials of a new compact dialysis machine, the Quanta SC+. Since May last year, Nottingham university hospitals trust has carried out more than 100 treatments with the machine, each typically a four-hour dialysis session.
The government has hinted that it could abandon talks aimed at a agreed settlement if junior doctors do not drop calls for extra pay for all work on Saturdays.
Dr Johann Malawana of the British Medical Association told ITV News Health Correspondent Rachel Younger that ministers were trying to " play politics" over the standoff.
And Dr Usman Ahmed, a trauma and orthopedic registrar from the West Midlands warned that any attempt to force a new deal on doctors without their consent could prompt a huge outflow of trained staff.
He said: "If you want to see an exodus of doctors from the NHS who would like to have some semblance of a quality of life that they can spend with their family, their friends, and look after their own health, then by all means continue pushing at this issue as they are at the moment."
Your This is the NHS series is inspiring and heartbreaking in equal measure, but not yet exploring the crucial questions about what kind of health service the Conservatives are aiming for and how it is to be funded. Your focus on the vested interests of the food and drinks industries and their disastrous impact on the NHS begins to reveal where the government’s loyalties lie, and I hope you will be exploring the involvement of the insurance and health businesses with politicians and NHS bosses in the coming days.
A huge injection of funds is required with the utmost urgency, and has to come from central government, not by getting rid of vital staff as suggested by NHS England and Monitor (Hospitals told to shed staff as NHS funding crisis deepens, 30 January). I want to pay a hypothecated NHS income tax as soon as possible. I’d like to see a freeze on any further procurements and a big reduction in the army of back office staff who are there just to marketise the NHS. If we could claw back some of that annual cost, put at around £5bn, we’d be able to deal with a lot of the debts and begin to get to grips with provision of social care.
It all started one Saturday last April, when I struggled to do a short park run. I’d previously been very fit and sporty and I’m a keen runner. The course wasn’t long, just a couple of laps of my local park. I was running with some other people, chatting to someone near the back and planning to speed up a little. However, very soon everyone had left me behind and I was struggling to keep up. As I tried to catch my breath I thought: this can’t be right. I had to stop and walk at times and I came third from last out of 500 people – which isn’t normal for me.
Initially I assumed I had a chest infection so went to my GP the following Monday just to check. She listened to my heart and was quick to spot a sudden onset heart murmur. She immediately phoned the hospital, referring me to A&E. How do I ... know when to go to A&E? Sometimes it is clear you have a medical emergency, but how about when the need is less obvious? A doctor advises Read more
At the hospital, after a short wait I was referred to cardiology, who looked into the cause of the murmur. Eventually they told me I had a serious heart valve leak. They said it was severe and couldn’t be left without treatment.
I had to undergo various tests over the next few weeks to ensure there were no other complications, and was then referred for surgery. If the cardiologists hadn’t spotted the leak, my condition would have deteriorated over the next few years, resulting in irreversible heart failure, where the heart loses its ability to pump effectively and eventually stops working altogether.
My GP and the hospital doctors saved my life by spotting something that could have become life-threatening.
An NHS 111 operator killed herself in her staff toilet halfway through her fourth 12-hour night shift in a row.
Emma Alsopp was found hanged at a non-emergency call centre in Devon, run by the same NHS trust under fire for failing to save the life of toddler William Mead.
The 22-year-old had complained to family and friends about the pressures of her job at the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust's (SWASFT) West Hub office in Exeter in the weeks before her death.
She is said to have felt under enormous stress coping with both the number and urgency of calls the centre was receiving.
Her colleagues found her dead shortly after her break when working the last of four night shifts in November last year.
Speaking to The Sun, her father Christopher, 46, said: 'She said it could be stressful and some of the people who rang 111 should have rung 999 with the stuff she said was coming through.
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