PERFORMANCE: Thousands of patients at an east London hospital have had their clinic appointments put back after a series of clerical and computer errors.
Whipps Cross University Hospital - run by Barts Health Trust - admitted the problems had “inconvenienced” patients, and did not yet know how many would breach the 18 weeks referral to treatment targets. An investigation is now underway.
The first error was the result of “early technical and administrative issues” with an electronic record system installed by the trust in May. Barts estimated that 12,600 patients may have had follow up appointments delayed as a result. Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group’s July board papers said the error was likely to have a “significant adverse impact” on patients waiting to begin treatment after 18 weeks.
The second error - made by a firm employed by the trust to distribute outpatient appointment letters - resulted in 19,600 letters not being sent to patients over a two week period last month. The CCG has issued a contract query notice in relation to the incident.
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A Barts spokesman said the error had “minimum impact” because most of the letters were for future appointments, but 277 patients missed scheduled appointments due to the error.
The trust already has a large backlog of patients waiting over 18 weeks for treatment but expects to begin meeting most RTT targets by the end of the month, according to the CCG’s papers.
A spokesman for Barts Health Trust said: “We are conducting a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding these issues. We have not identified any cases of patient harm.
“As part of our continual efforts to improve patient care, we introduced a new electronic health record system in May 2014 at Whipps Cross Hospital.
“Following this transition, we have experienced some early technical and administrative issues, for which we apologise to our patients who have been inconvenienced. A number of patients who attended a clinic experienced a delay in having their follow up treatment booked. This backlog is now being cleared and will be removed entirely by the end of July.
“For a two week period, outpatient appointment letters were not sent to our patients. As part of the immediate action we took to rectify this issue, we contacted all the affected patients about their appointment times. Some of our patients have already been seen and the remainder have scheduled appointments.”