East and North Herts NHS Trust still has backlog of 1,800 discharge summaries after IT woes

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust still has a backlog of 1,800 discharge summaries. Picture

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust still has a backlog of 1,800 discharge summaries. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust. - Credit: Archant

Hospital bosses in Hertfordshire are still struggling to catch up with a backlog of discharge summaries.

Discharge summaries are clinical reports drafted by health professionals following a hospital stay or a series of treatments and can, for instance, inform GPs that further medical tests, scans or appointments are required, or can detail medication that has been prescribed.

However, the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Stevenage's Lister Hospital, Welwyn Garden City's New QEII Hospital and Hertford County Hospital, has a backlog of 1,800 discharge summaries.

The delays were caused when the Trust moved from a paper-based system to a new computer system, known as Lorenzo, in September 2017.

Earlier this year Trust bosses vowed to clear the backlog - which has affected up to 14,600 patients overall - by the end of August, but now say it is not likely to be before the end of the year.

Speaking at a meeting of Herts County Council's Impact of Scrutiny Advisory Committee, chief information officer Mark Stanton said: "We don't have a specific completion date, but on the current trajectory we suggest it will be at least three months before that activity is completed."

He said the IT system is now functioning "as it's supposed to", with current discharge summaries being issued on time.

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The committee heard about the progress as part of an annual process by the county council to scrutinise healthcare provision in Hertfordshire.

In March, the East and North Herts NHS Trust was one of five healthcare providers that appeared before the Health Scrutiny Committee and was given a number of recommendations by councillors.

Councillors said the NHS Trust should work to improve its IT systems, by stabilising Lorenzo and continuing to address the backlog of discharge summaries.

They also said the Trust should prioritise employee engagement to retain staff, including measures such as appraisals, training and clarity about roles and responsibilities.

At this latest meeting it was reported that stabilisation of the IT system was completed in June and that a five-year digital strategy was being developed.

The stabilisation exercise was started in July 2018 to address the issues.