Outdated IT and Ways of Working: Barriers to Improving NHS Scotland

NHS_Scotland.svgA Scottish Parliament Committee is highly critical of outdated systems and ways of working in NHS Scotland and the social care system. It claims these are  barriers to improvement.

The cross party Health and Sport Committee wants the Scottish Government to step in and take over these functions from local boards.

In their ‘Technology and Innovation Report issues which arose from their inquiry included “a disconnect between Scottish Government strategies and local delivery“.

The Committee chaired by Lewis MacDonald, Labour, would like to see some services centralised. They argue that this would be of the following advantages:

  • simplified and standardised delivery
  • increased compliance and consistency
  • improved quality of service and support for staff
  • improved customer service
  • greater opportunities for sharing good practice, skills and expertise
  • improved reporting and management information
  • cost efficiencies through economies of scale

The inquiry also highlighted :

“the huge variation in the systems for recording data within NHS Scotland”  

with mental health, primary care and maternity services using  different programmes to record and access patient information. The sharing of data was exposed as being of particular concern.

IT systems for health care in prisons  ‘was described as being “not fit for purpose”.’

IT systems being used in health care and social care were incompatible resulting in problems with data sharing. This was also an issue with hospices providing end of life palliative care.

The evidence from the  Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Scotland  revealed that:

“Pharmacists can access the emergency care summary, but they have to do it through NHS 24; there is no direct access even though that has been promised since 2014. We have to phone NHS 24 to gain access and often there are extra phone calls, which cost extra time. We have lobbied for a long time on that point.”
[Source: Health and Sport Committee 31 October 2017, Aileen Bryson, contrib. 4216]

The committee is recommending that the Scottish Government tackle the issue with urgency.

Lewis MacDonald said:
“When the Committee agreed to carry out this inquiry, members expected to investigate different ways where ground-breaking and innovative technologies could make dramatic changes to the way the health and social care sector operates. Instead, we’ve heard how a number of barriers are preventing change from happening.

“The Committee wants Scotland to remain a leader in health and social care and to do so we must make sure innovation flourishes. We are asking the Scottish Government to be bold and offer strong leadership to tackle these”

careThe Scottish Government is currently working with NHS Scotland on the  “e – Health, Digital Health and Social Care Strategy 2017-22″.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame



2 replies »

  1. OK – I don’t like going over this again and again, but if it helps to make something happen – I will.
    Something over 4 years ago, I became very ill – mainly due to careless prescription and administration of strong medication, which was then not monitored as it should have been.
    During the saga which followed, it became clear that my records were kept in various places – surgery/two- three hospitals, opticians etc. etc. If my complete records had been available on-line to all concerned, and had been easy to access so they could have been checked quickly before the whole business with the medication started – a lot of pain and distress, not only to me, but to those who care about me, could have been avoided. I am certain of that.
    It would also, ultimately, have saved the NHS a lot of money, in useless/harmful prescriptions.
    One of the doctors apologised and said he had learnt lessons from it all, about checking on his patients. That’s a good thing. BUT …..what still concerns me , is if patient records are still scattered in this way, and therefore not readily accessible before treatment begins, and as treatment is on-going. (I mis-spelt ‘treatment’, and spellcheck offered ‘torment’ – very fitting.)
    I’ve said all this before, elsewhere in at least one other Orkney News article – some folk may be sick of hearing about it – BUT – IT STILL STANDS – MY MAIN AIM, AFTER IT ALL, WAS TO TRY TO ENSURE THAT NOTHING LIKE THAT HAPPENS TO ANYONE ELSE, FOR SIMILAR REASONS.
    Damn, I left the caps on – I still get worked up about this, so it fits, really.
    I’ll also repeat the fact that Liam McArthur was very, very helpful at the time – meeting with relevant people, to try to tighten up on these issues. Thank you ,again, Liam.
    The effects of what happened then, are still with me, and, I think will be – so – I get on with my life as best I can and work with my limitations. It does annoy and anger me, that this was brought on me – it wasn’t an illness which caused it, it was the treatment for a purely physical problem, which caused the illness. I try not to let that loom too large on my horizon, as it’s in the past, now and I have to ….live.
    I just don’t want it to happen to other people, and I do believe that a more connected, efficient method of storing patients records, would help, enormously.

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