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A few years back, ambulance staff called to a patient’s home often had very little information about them, beyond what could be gleaned in the emergency call.

Electronic patient records have changed all that and should make it easier for ambulance staff to make the right decision about what care a patient needs.

So when they are out of commission, for whatever reason, staff – particularly newer ones – can find it hard to return to paper solutions.

But that is what has happened for the last week in two ambulance trusts – South Western and South Central. A cyber attack has left their electronic patient care record systems out of action, with no current information on when they will return. The company which provides them seems ready to go live but is waiting for the go-ahead from the NHS – and NHS England says it is down to the trusts.

But coming relatively soon after the cyber attack on NHS 111 and other software last year, it is a reminder of how dependent the NHS has become on IT and how vulnerable it is to disruption due to cyber attacks – including ones affecting partners or data hosting sites.

Day of the directors

NHSE is advertising 22 national clinical director roles, including two newly created leadership roles, and 20 existing posts.  

One of the new jobs is for NHS Impact, the new improvement programme created by NHSE chief Amanda Pritchard. Its director will, the advert says, “galvanise the NHS and champion improvement through clinical leadership in the NHS. They will be an experienced professional leader with the clinical credibility and experience to represent NHS Impact in an environment where frontline services are under intense pressure, and the demands and expectations placed on it are increasing”.

The other new post is a new NCD for neonatology, whose job advert refers to government and NHSE proposals to improve neonatal care. The advert for this post says: “There is increased scrutiny on neonatal services to deliver the safety recommendations and outcomes as outlined in both the Shrewsbury and Telford and East Kent reports.”

The only existing NCD post which is not being readvertised (nor an equivalent NCD post) is the NCD for violence reduction. HSJ understands its functions, currently held by Barts surgeon Martin Griffiths, are being combined into a major trauma specialist clinical adviser role.

Also on today

The weeks leading up to parliamentary recess have seen a whirlwind of reports, inquiries and reviews into mental health services, writes Emily Townsend, who looks at them closely in Mental Health Matters. In Comment, Neil Tester says that a report by Healthwatch Hertfordshire on the cost of living crisis reveals critical challenges for healthcare services across the nation.