Your round-up of the day’s essential health stories

Digital system in knots

HSJ has revealed “a rather big muck up” at Nottingham Univeristy Hospitals Trust.

Outcry from senior consultants has forced NUH to review its £14m digital patient record system amid fears over patient safety.

Senior clinicians described the system as “unsafe” and a “disaster”.

In an email chain shared with HSJ, they were scathing of the system, claiming vital records were often missing meaning they had to “guess” why patients were attending clinics.

In one case, an intensive care patient was treated from “memory” because none of their records were available. Another consultant said they were forced to play “medical charades” with patients by asking leading questions to get key information.

The problems stem from the trust’s DHR system, which has cost more than £14m over the last two years. It involves handwritten notes being sent to a private company to be scanned as images, which are indexed and added to a digital viewing system. A survey resulted in 97 out of 100 consultants saying they felt the system was unsafe in its current format.

Trust medical director Keith Girling said he accepted the criticism and that the system was not working, and said the trust would act.

Hunt’s hits

While Jeremy Hunt’s Tory party conference speech sounded familiar to some observers, there were a few new announcements among the old soundbites.

The longest serving health secretary said the government would create an extra 5,000 training posts for student nurses from next year, an increase of 25 per cent. HSJ understands the commitment would require around £35m of new funding over three years, and that this is likely to be included in the autumn budget following negotiations over the apprenticeship levy.

He also said health workers would get first refusal on affordable housing built on sold NHS land. “From now on when NHS land is sold, first refusal on any affordable housing built will be given to NHS employees benefiting up to 3,000 families,” Mr Hunt said.

FT wins Merseyside derby

NHS Improvement has awarded Liverpool’s troubled community services contract to Mersey Care Foundation Trust, ending months of uncertainty.

Liverpool Community Health Trust has been split up after serious care and governance failings between 2011 and 2014 were uncovered, which were likened to those at Mid Staffordshire FT.

After the initial procurement process for the services, launched in 2016, Bridgewater Community Healthcare FT was named as the preferred provider of the “core services” in Liverpool, beating Mersey Care.

But months later the process was controversially called off by NHSI after concerns about the funding envelope and Bridgewater’s rating of requires improvement from the Care Quality Commission.

Management of the LCH services was subsequently taken over on an interim basis by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital FT and a new procurement process was carried out.

There were two bids in the second process, from Alder Hey and Mersey Care, and NHSI said the latter “most closely met the needs of local healthcare for the future”.

Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, who helped expose the failings at LCH and strongly criticised the initial procurement process, said it was the “first sensible decision to come out of NHSI for a while”.