New plans announced to revolutionise the way North Hertfordshire’s residents medical records are stored

NHS warehouse in Stevenage

NHS warehouse in Stevenage - Credit: Archant

A multi-million pound plan has been unveiled to revolutionise the way patients medical records are stored.

The East and North Herts NHS Trust is planning to move all 400,000 of its patient records to a warehouse in Stevenage so they can be stored centrally and retrieved more easily by October.

Currently records are stored at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn GC, Hertford County Hospital and Lister Hospital in Stevenage as well as often being located in doctor’s offices around the area.

The new storage system will have a barcode system on every file which will allow them to be constantly tracked which Claire Moore, general manager for the health records, said it in an important step forward.

Ms Moore added: “It’s sometimes difficult to track records down because often you don’t know where they are and have no reliable way of finding out.

“A lot of time is wasted in the NHS trying to find a patients records by staff at all levels and appointments will sometimes have to be cancelled because the records are not there.

“This system will mean that we can always track their location and don’t have to waste time finding it out.

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“Having it centralised will enable records to be taken to where their needed quicker. Also we will run a seven day a week service from 7.30am to 10pm and aim to deliver records to A&E within an hour.

“Currently the courier system is 9am to 5pm and it can be hard to get hold of records outside of those times. Hopefully this new setup will reduce a lot of the hidden inefficiencies and give better care.”

Costs have yet to be finalised but it is expected that the records will begin to be moved to the site, which has the capacity for 750,000 records, in July, and completed within two months.

Tracy Grant, health records manager for the NHS, said: “One of the problems is in moving everything over is that the files are in constant use and so it has to be a gradual process.

“As they come in they will all be scanned and bar-coded which takes time but will make for a better service when it’s finished.”

Currently all pathology tests and all radiology scans are now provided digitally and the Trust has an electronic patient administration system but all other parts of a patient’s record are paper-based.

Full digitalisation of patient medical records is a controversial issue and has met severe opposition over concerns about leaks of personal data. However in January last year Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for health, outlined plans that will see the Trust migrate to a digital health record service by 2018.

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