HSJ’s round-up of Wednesday’s must read stories and debate

System failure

One of the country’s largest teaching hospitals has been unable to report pathology tests for almost a week after a major IT fault which has impacted on patient care and operations.

Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust has declared a “critical” internal incident over the fault, which occurred last Friday and is preventing the trust from processing and reporting the results of pathology lab tests.

It has meant results from tests being hand delivered to clinical teams, with emergency urgent care patients prioritised.

The hardware fault with the trust’s Telepath system is also affecting Bradford Hospitals Foundation Trust and local GPs who use the pathology lab.

The trust said a small number of elective operations and appointments had been postponed to safeguard patient safety.

As it stands it is unclear when the fault will be repaired, but it is inevitable questions will be asked about what may have caused this system fault.

Shifting priorities

Leeds is not alone in experiencing problems with technology, but trusts lagging behind in digital maturity will have to wait for money to fix their problems.

On Wednesday, NHS Digital’s new head of digital technology backed the recent policy shift to prioritise more digitally mature hospitals for central funding instead of less technologically developed trusts as previously planned.

The proposals announced by the health secretary earlier this month, which involve around 30 digitally mature trusts receiving up to £10m, are a significant shift from a previous policy to “prioritise… health economies with the most still left to do”.

Beverley Bryant told HSJ that the move, based on Professor Robert Wachter’s Making IT Work review, was “right” – when coupled with the review’s key recommendation to push back the timetable for digitising hospitals to 2023, as well as other policy developments.

However, HSJ correspondent James Illman warns that a robust plan is still needed for the trusts that aren’t tech “exemplars”, or there’s a danger they could be “left to rot”.

COI clampdown

NHS managers earning money from consultancy, advisory positions or honorariums will be expected to publicly declare them as interests as part of a new crackdown on conflicts of interest proposed by NHS England.

In a consultation document, NHS England sets out proposals to increase transparency around potential COI. These include declarations around an individual’s shareholdings, hospitality and gifts of more than £25, family relationships and “loyalty interests” that may have an impact on their NHS employer.

A review led by NHS England chair Sir Malcolm Grant developed the proposals to increase transparency across the service.

Planning guidance: the scene is set

The latest NHS planning guidance is due to be released imminently, coming three months earlier than usual and covering two years rather than the usual one.

Check Dave West’s most recent expert briefings to set the scene and find out what to expect from the NHS’s new instructions.