Second bid to roll out A&E IT system in Wigan

A second attempt has been made to introduce a new IT system to Wigan Infirmary's A&E department.

Thursday, 20th September 2018, 3:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th September 2018, 4:17 pm
Hospitals trust chief executive Andrew Foster

Hospital bosses were forced to stop the roll-out of the software last year after it caused more problems than expected in A&E, including contributing to a rise in waiting times for patients.

Changes have since been made to the Health Information System (HIS) and it was implemented again yesterday by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL).

However, patients were warned they could face “minor delays” while the system was introduced.

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Chief executive Andrew Foster said: “The HIS project is one of the biggest initiatives the trust has undertaken and it has put WWL at the forefront of modern healthcare delivery.

“It has proved a great success so is now being rolled out in A&E where it will support WWL’s mission to be safe, effective and caring and put the patient at the centre of everything we do.

“However, due to the scale of the project we expect problems and delays during the first few weeks and we are asking A&E users to be patient during this time. Please bear with us so we may serve you better.”

Mr Foster felt the early signs were positive.

He said: “Substantial changes have been made following the feedback gained from the last roll-out.

“The presentation of the HIS screens have been adapted to suit A&E and so far everything appears to be going smoothly.”

The system was introduced to most departments in the hospital in 2016 and staff in A&E have now been trained how to use it.

The trust said the clinical IT system is designed to support safer, faster and more efficient care for patients.

It will support a full electronic patient record across the trust, prescriptions will be managed electronically and patient information will flow quickly and safely throughout the organisation.

Medical staff will be able to access patients’ health records quickly, wherever they are, and it will reduce the use of paper.

The trust said the benefits include reduced waits for referral acceptance, processing and discharge; improved patient outcomes and increased safety; and fewer requests for demographic information.

It is hoped that in future patients will be able to log on to view their own health records via a portal.

Health bosses will be hoping it is second time lucky for the roll-out of the new system.

When it was initially introduced in A&E last year, it took longer than expected to process patients, leading to rising waiting times during the busy winter months when the department was already struggling to meet targets.

Around 75 per cent of patients were being seen within four hours after the IT system was introduced, compared to 88 per cent beforehand.

Mr Foster apologised for the longer waiting times and the system was switched off in December, but was still used in other departments throughout the trust.

Waiting times have greatly improved in recent months, with the latest figures showing 91.6 per cent of patients were seen by the trust within fours hours in August.

But warnings have been issued this week via social media of “high demand with long waits to be seen” in the A&E unit and patients urged to seek help from other sources if possible.