The house of commons committee has released a government report stating how “deeply un-impressed” MP’s are with the NHS for their handling of a backlog of clinical correspondences. NHS bosses admitted that 18 months ago, 709,000 items of correspondence had been mishandled. Staggeringly, it was reported last month by the NHS SBS that in addition to the 709,000 items of mishandled correspondence, a further backlog of 162,000 items existed. This correspondence could include details of treatment plans, details of changes of drugs, child protection notes and the results of various kinds of diagnostic tests. Proper handling of clinical correspondence is an essential part of administering care for patients. Almost 2,000 patients are still being assessed by NHS England to determine whether they have suffered harm because of the delay in handling their correspondence.
These issues only highlight the urgent need for the NHS to digitise documentation and remove paper from the equation. In January 2013, Jeremy Hunt announced a plan to establish a paper-less NHS by 2018. This was in an attempt to improve services and address the challenges of an ageing population. With the new year fast approaching, it is clear the target of 2018 was somewhat far-fetched. The NHS will need to put the motion in works to start the enormous task of digitising archived records. Going paperless will reduce the administrative burden for care professionals and revolutionise the quality of health and care services. This will also remove the threat of such blunders happening in the future.
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