• St George’s to resume reporting waiting list data, after a break of more than two years
  • Ten patients, including a child, came to “severe harm” after it lost track
  • Roughly two million records had to be checked

A hospital trust that had to check two million patient records when its data system was revealed to be faulty is to start re-reporting its waiting time data.

St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust had 10 people come to “severe harm” under the NHS England definitions as a result of losing track of patients on its waiting list.

It had to stop reporting the number of people waiting and how long they had waited in July 2016, as it tried to contact patients and check they had been treated, while setting up a new system. Creating the new system involved checking roughly two million records.

The trust’s board voted to return to reporting elective waiting times at its board meeting last week. Its January data will be released in March.

The work of the clinical harm review panel, which has oversight from NHS England’s London region, is still going on. Ten people were reported to have come to “severe harm”, including a child, in January 2018. Another four were classed as “moderate”. HSJ has asked the trust for the latest total.

“Severe harm” is defined by the NHS National Reporting and Learning Service as “permanent harm”.

In 2017, non-executive director at the trust Sir Norman Williams, former president of the Royal College of Surgeons, asked the board about the “potential liability and what arrangements the trust had in place to manage this”. The trust has never confirmed what these arrangements are.

St George’s performs roughly 28,400 elective and day case procedures a year and books approximately 637,000 outpatient appointments. The issue had been noted on its risk register as far back as 2014.The problem is thought to relate to a botched IT installation in 2010.

The decision to start re-reporting will apply only to the trust’s main site in Tooting, not to the smaller Queen Mary’s Hospital, which has more severe data quality problems.

The trust’s chief operating officer Ellis Pullinger said in a statement: “This is a highly significant milestone in our improvement journey at St George’s.

“It is a positive step forward for the organisation, and the end result of a huge amount of hard work by many, many people. It is also good for our patients, and part of our bid to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

“Internal and independent assessments of our waiting lists confirm that the systems and processes for managing patient pathways on the St George’s Hospital site are safe and robust. We are not complacent, however, and will continue to monitor and scrutinise the systems we have put in place to ensure they remain fit for purpose for years to come.”

The work at St George’s was done largely by consultancy MBI Health Group.

Similar scandals have occurred at Kettering General Hospital FT, London North West University Hospitals Trust, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children FT, Barts Health Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals FT.

Barts Health Trust carried out clinical harm assessments on 2,000 patients – some of whom had waited more than a year, and some who had been identified as being at high risk of clinical harm. A spokesman said none had come to moderate or severe harm.