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£10m hi-tech frustration for hospital

Published: 3 Aug 2012 19:000 comments

HOSPITAL bosses warn a new multimillion pound patient computer system is still causing delays and cancellations to patients' appointments nearly six weeks after its launch.

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Royal Berkshire Hospital chief executive Ed Donald admitted the trust's Electronic Patient Records (EPR) System has "growing pains" but insists technicians are working to improve it.

A number of patients have arrived at the hospital for wrongly booked clinics since the £10m programme, developed by healthcare solutions company Cerner, went live in June and staff are taking longer than normal to arrange appointments because they need to enter information on multiple screens.

But Mr Donald told last Thursday's Council of Governors meeting: "It isn't without its growing pains and its difficulties but the support and response of staff has been tremendous and we are trying to limit the impact on patients."

He added: "There's nothing more frustrating than coming in to the hospital and the nurses and doctors aren't there, but if you think about the thousands of people coming through the hospital everyday it isn't happening to the majority."

The system involves storing parents patient details on a central database making it easier for staff to identify people's medical needs and manage hospital beds, equipment and other resources more quickly and efficiently.

One patient who saw the system in use during a consultation last month said: "It seemed touch and go when the doctor used it to start the process for my next appointment. He apologised in advance before laboriously tapping in the details and I was quite surprised when I got to reception and discovered the ladies still had a lot of tapping left to do.

"The role between doctor and admin clerk is a little blurred but as long as they know what they're doing."

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