New IT systems delivered as part of the NHS London IT programme are now being used in 60 per cent of London's mental health trusts, helping the NHS deliver better, safer care to patients.

Six of London's mental health trusts are now using these new computerised patient record systems as part of a London-wide NHS IT upgrade. The new systems were installed by BT in its capacity as local service provider for London, working together with NHS London.

These systems lay the foundations for the NHS care records service, an integrated electronic patient records system that will, in time, enable NHS staff to access patient records by linking with other hospitals and NHS and social care organisations in London and across the rest of the country.

Clinicians are embracing the switch from paper to electronic records, which they say is improving patient care by ensuring they have accurate, up-to-date and secure information available around the clock - something that is often vital in an emergency.

Consultant psychiatrist and clinical director at Oxleas foundation trust Dr Hashim Reza said: "The London mental healthcare community now has a computerised patient record system that is as good as any in the world. It is helping clinicians to provide the best care to our patients by giving them the information they need at their fingertips, when and where they need it.

"The true beneficiaries of this project are patients and it is heartening that these advances are taking place in the mental health sector, which is so often at the back of the queue."

Oxleas was one of the first of the mental health trusts in London to complete a trust-wide switch to electronic records. The trust serves three London boroughs with a combined population of about 1 million people.

Keeping tabs on patients

Dr Morris Zwi, consultant psychiatrist at South West London and St George's mental health trust, said: "The new system is especially useful in cases where many health professionals are involved. For instance, with eating disorders. Each patient works with at least a psychiatrist, dietician, and a family therapist. Sometimes it's very difficult for us all to catch up and see how patients are progressing. Now getting hold of the most up-to-date information from each member of the care team is straightforward."

New systems have now been installed in North East London; West London; South West London and St George's; East London and the City; and Barnet, Enfield and Haringey mental health trusts.

Martin Baggaley, a trust medical director and consultant psychiatrist, and former clinical lead for the NHS London IT programme, said: "The new systems are all about making life simpler - simpler for NHS staff to access patient data which is in the right place at the right time, and simpler for patients to deal with a more efficient NHS.

"These six London mental health trusts now have a modern IT system to support key clinical services. This is a continuing process which will improve patient care and allow the clinicians working for the trusts to work in a more efficient way. This is a first step towards a fully integrated electronic patient record."

For more information, see www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk

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