PERFORMANCE: NHS North East has raised concerns about elective waiting time performance at The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust, which may be linked to IT.

An SHA evaluation of performance in the final quarter of 2010-11 says: “The SHA welcomed the improving picture in relation to the number of incomplete referral to treatment pathways at Newcastle Hospitals Foundation Trust. The PCT noted that the work under taken by the trust in sampling of 200-300 records had indicated that the majority of incomplete pathways were ghost pathways created by the patient administration system. We discussed the planed system changes and Cerner upgrade planned for June. We request written reassurance on the completion of this upgrade and the completion of the validation of existing incomplete pathways.”

A board document commentary by the North of Tyne PCT cluster says: “The [SHA] had concerns over the list size of the patients awaiting treatment at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust. The Trust is now making progress against the joint action plan and is ahead of the trajectory agreed between the commissioner and provider.

“The planned upgrade to the Cerner system has been delayed until September however the functionality which will improve the position will not be available until November/December. The Cerner system is the patient data base system that is used to manage and track patients on the waiting lists at the Trust. In the meanwhile, validation of the incomplete pathways (waiting lists) continues to ensure that Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust meet their agreed targets.

“The specialties that are under pressure have robust business plans to improve capacity but as this mainly relates to additional medical staff, there are the inherent delays associated with recruitment. Everything possible is being done to expedite this and assurance can be given that the Trust will continue to meet all access targets.”