The failure of parts of the NHS to use “bog standard” IT is undermining the case to Treasury for more technology funding, an NHS England director has said.

Speaking at a conference in London on Tuesday, NHS England national director for operations and information Matthew Swindells named 18 trusts that were failing to use basic IT systems correctly (see box).

Matthew swindells

Source: Neil O’Connor

Matthew Swindells said incompetent IT ‘is stopping us from running an efficient NHS’

He said: “If we can’t do the basics then me going cap in hand to Treasury for another £10bn to sort IT out just sounds like fools’ money.

“It’s like a hole you are tipping more money into. We need to get this stuff right.”

IT systems of concern were patient administration – essentially tracking patient flow and bed availability; electronic rostering; and electronic referrals.

In some instances, systems were already deployed nearly everywhere already, such as e-rostering, but were not being used correctly or at all, Mr Swindells said.

“Our failure to deliver competently bog standard IT is stopping us from running an efficient NHS,” he added.

Mr Swindells singled out in 18 trusts he was “most worried” about not meeting the October deadline to switch to electronic referrals, including providers in the global digital exemplar programme.

He also named trusts that were not reporting referral to treatment times. These included:

  • Barts Health Trust;
  • St Georges University Hospitals Foundation Trust;
  • Gloucestershire Hospitals FT;
  • North Devon Healthcare Trust;
  • East and North Hertfordshire Trust; and
  • Mid Essex Hospital Service Trust.

He said: “Barts has not provided RTT figures for four years. They are a really big organisation, they affect our figures.”

NHS England’s strategy for improving uptake of digital technology among providers over the past two years has been focused on providing support and funds to trusts that are already reasonably digitally advanced.

The aim of the global digital exemplar programme is for around 50 trusts to become more digitally advanced and provide templates for less digitally advanced trusts to follow.

However, the focus has started to shift to providers, as many as half acute trusts by some measures, which are still very reliant on paper.

HSJ understands these trusts will likely face more pressure to ensure they use their existing basic IT more effectively, and provide better quality data to the centre.

Meeting basic IT standards will also likely be a requirement for access to future rounds of national technology funding.

Trusts at risk of not meeting October e-referrals deadline

  • Portsmouth Hospitals Trust
  • East and North Hertfordshire Trust
  • Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust
  • University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire FT
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children FT
  • Queen Victoria Hospital FT
  • Western Sussex Hospitals FT
  • Oxford University Hospital FT (global digital exemplar)
  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust
  • Hampshire Hospitals FT
  • Isle of Wight Trust
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital FT
  • South Warwickshire FT
  • Kingston Hospital FT
  • St George’s University Hospitals FT
  • Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust
  • Imperial College Healthcare Trust (global digital exemplar)
  • University College London Hospitals FT

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