News in brief

  • NME trusts could get central funding: Trusts in the North, Midlands and East of England (NME) could receive central funding from the Department of Health (DH) for a clinical IT system, even if they choose not to take CSC’s Lorenzo according to eHealth Insider. As part of the latest contract, CSC received £68m for “value delivered to date” but lost its exclusive rights to be the only provider of clinical IT systems in the NME. When asked if there will be central support for those trusts that do not wish to buy Lorenzo, the DH said: “We have given local NHS organisations the power to make their own decisions about which IT systems they use.”
  • Hospitals ‘on brink of collapse’: Due to the rise in demand and the increasing complexity of patients’ conditions, doctors have warned that hospitals in England could be on the brink of collapse. The Royal College of Physicians’ report said the number of beds had been cut by a third over the past 25 years and at the same time emergency admissions had started rising and hospitals were seeing older patients with a wider variety of conditions. The report said the solution lay in concentrating hospital services in fewer, larger sites that were able to provide excellent care round-the-clock, seven days a week.
  • Image sharing for second opinions: A £12.5m picture archiving and communications system, radiology information system, and vendor neutral archiving contract in the south east of England will allow clinicians from outside of the area to view images and provide second opinions. Philips was recently awarded a five-year contract for PACS, RIS and VNA by the Surrey and Sussex collaborative procurement of six NHS trusts. Speaking to eHealth Insider Lesley Walton, Sussex and Surrey PACS RIS VNA collaborative lead programme manager said: “The ability to easily share images is becoming increasingly important, especially with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust becoming a specialist trauma centre.”
  • ACS buys Strand Technology for CareNotes: Advanced Computer Software Group has bought Strand Technology for £2m in cash, in a move that accelerates a shake-up of the mental health supplier market that is gathering pace as the National Programme for IT in the NHS winds down reports EHI. The acquisition is the second buy-out of a small community and mental health electronic patient record vendor in a month.
  • Cabinet Office “blacklists” two “high risk” IT suppliers: A report that two IT suppliers have been labelled too “high risk” to take on new public sector deals has raised question marks over the extent of government attempts to sanction individual suppliers in any review of outsourcing contract performance. According to the report, one of the two companies is Fujitsu, whose contract was terminated in 2008 over a £900m deal to install electronic patient records. In a recent letter to cabinet ministers, Francis Maude detailed a new process for “blacklisting” suppliers, and making it more difficult for them to win further Government work. The other company, an IT services contractor, remains unnamed.
  • Agfa HealthCare and Orion Health form global strategic relationship for eHealth: Agfa HealthCare and Orion Health have announced a global strategic relationship to provide image-enabled Electronic Health Records (EHRs), and Health Information exchanges for regional-enabled hospital information systems/clinical information systems/electronic patient records (HIS/CISs/EPRs) that will provide cost-effective eHealth deployments across care boundaries. Ian McCrae, CEO of Orion Health said: “Bringing the wealth of diagnostic and clinical image data from Agfa HealthCare’s ICIS platform into Orion Health’s EHR or HIE will support more informed decision making and collaboration for clinicians, while managing costs for health providers.”
  • Magic carpet developed: According to Healthcare Today a “magic carpet” has been developed by scientists at the University of Manchester to help detect falls and predict mobility problems. Dr Patricia Scully, head of the university research team, said: “The carpet can gather a wide range of information about a person’s condition, ranging from biomechanical to chemical sensing of body fluids, enabling holistic sensing to provide an environment that detects and responds to changes in patient condition. The carpet is non-intrusive and can be retrofitted at low cost.”
  • Trusts ‘stop the clock’ to hit targets: Analysis of DH data by Rob Findlay, founder of Gooroo, has shown that some NHS trusts have excessively used “clock pauses” in order to achieve the 18 week referral to treatment target. HSJ reports that Rob Findlay compared the data adjusted for clock pauses – which allow trusts to effectively extend the 18-week limit in cases where patients are seen to decline treatment – with unadjusted data measuring the total wait patients experienced. Under DH rules, clock pauses can only be initiated by the trust if the patient has declined two reasonable dates for admission; “reasonable” is defined as the trust giving the patient at least three weeks notice.
  • CCGs face temporary limits on authorisation: Dozens of Clinical Commissioning Groups are expected to have “temporary” restrictions placed on them when they are authorised, reports HSJ (subscription required). Several senior NHS sources said many CCGs – particularly those among the first to be reviewed by the NHS Commissioning Board – would have formal conditions placed on them. In many cases these have been imposed following delays in service planning and filling posts. The board is expected to make a clear distinction between CCGs with conditions expected to be temporary, and those with more serious conditions that will limit their freedom beyond April 2013.
  • Serious NHS safety incidents ‘up a quarter since 2010’: According to a new report the number of reported NHS accident and incidents resulting in death or severe harm to patients has risen by a quarter since the Coalition came to power and now tops 10,000 a year. Statistics released by the NHS Commissioning Board show the number of patient safety incidents in England that resulted in death or severe harm, rose to 10,102 between April 2011 and March 2012. By comparison, the number was 7,867 between October 2009 and September 2010, during which period the Coalition came to power. John Lister, director of campaign group Health Emergency, claimed tighter budgets and reduced headcounts had contributed to the rise.
  • Whittington Health delivers online patient safety system for expanded health community: Whittington Health has introduced an online system to manage patient safety, health and safety incidents, and patient complaints across its diverse community care, social services and acute hospital sites reports BJHC. The integrated care organisation already had an electronic patient safety system installed across its single site, however the merging of the community health services and social services with Whittington Hospital NHS Trust has created a requirement for a system to support an additional 2,000 staff and also provide easy access to a diverse range of professionals such as district nurses, health visitors and sexual health specialists. These had different IT requirements and were spread across two London boroughs. Whittington Health now has a three-step process for incident reporting and all 4,500 staff can access the online system to record incidents.
  • Interserve in £300m NHS boost: Leicester and Leicestershire and Rutland NHS trusts have pooled together to outsource their hospital, community and primary care facilities management to one provider Interserve reports the FT. In one of the largest deals of its kind around 2,000 staff will transfer to Interserve, under the agreement, which is worth £300m to the company over seven years. Interserve, who saw off rival Serco to win preferred bidder status on the contract, will manage more than 550 NHS buildings and community and primary care services as well as on-site services such as catering, cleaning and security. The move is part of a growing trend towards shared facilities management contracts, as local councils and NHS trusts seek to trim procurement costs in the face of squeezed budgets.
  • Former iSOFT executives to face retrial: Former executives of iSOFT face a retrial next year on charges brought by the Financial Services Authority that they fraudulently overstated financial results to the market. Stephen Graham, Timothy Whiston and John Whelan will be retried at Southwark Crown Court in April after their first, four month trial ended without a verdict last month. The FSA accuse the men of misleading the market and their auditors between 2003 and 2006 through deceit and forgery. The defendants deny the allegations.
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Joe’s view of Lorenzo
In this week’s feature on eHealth Insider, Joe McDonald, NHS consultant psychiatrist and former national clinical lead for IT at Connecting for Health takes us through an epic tale of Lorenzo. In his piece, he recalls his first encounter with Lorenzo where he realised:

“My God we’re trying to computerise something we haven’t standardised on paper!”

Joe continues: “The next six days involved 12 hour shifts working with the delightful Indian software developers, but Joe felt increasingly uneasy. He knew what working clinical software looked like and it was simple, easy to use and designed close to the coalface.

“Maybe the project was trying to build a Rolls Royce when a scooter would do the job, and do it better….Neither CSC nor NHS Connecting for Health set out to fail, but Lorenzo was an attempt to leap a tall building in a single bound compounded by a contract where incentives were given for hitting clinically irrelevant targets.”

“The money spent on Lorenzo can only be regarded as wasted if the knowledge gleaned in the process is allowed to dissipate. Maybe Shane Tickell’s idea of a permanent NHS Health IT Centre should get some DH help?”

The first World Sepsis Day launches this week – spread the word!
A variety of blogs and opinions have appeared this week all unanimous in spreading awareness of the inaugural World Sepsis Day, and ensuring it gets the attention it deserves.

Someone dies of sepsis every three seconds. It affects more people than cancer but there is far less awareness of it. Early recognition and treatment will save lives!

Leading factors which contribute to so many avoidable deaths are delayed diagnosis and the lack of a single test which detects the presence of sepsis. This is why the Global Sepsis Alliance launched its first ever World Sepsis Day on Thursday 13th September – its aim to raise awareness of sepsis among clinicians and the public in order to cut the number of global cases by twenty per cent as well as improve rehabilitation.

Advice on recognising sepsis is available on the UK Sepsis Trust Website. It says, “If a person has more than one of a very high (or very low) temperature, a racing heartbeat, rapid breathing, or is confused/slurring their speech then they may have sepsis and should seek medical attention. If any of these features exist and the skin is cool, pale or mottled, the patient has lost consciousness or has not passed water for more than 18 hours then the patient needs to be taken to hospital as soon as possible.”

Andrew Lansley was a disaster who deserved to be sacked
Was Andrew Lansley really that bad? Richard Vize at Guardian Professional seems to think so! In his latest article he launches a stinging attack on Lansley saying:

“The former secretary of state took a wrecking ball to NHS structures, alienated every interest group and patronised those who disagreed with him. So there is no sentiment about Andrew Lansley’s departure, no matter how hard he worked, how gutted he is to lose the Tory health brief after nine years or how much he cared about the health service. By every measure of high political office, he was a disaster and he deserved to be sacked.

“Lansley was a shocking communicator, from ill-tempered media interviews to the hectoring tone he adopted with the professions. His idea of consultation was to repeat what he had said in the hope that this time you would finally concede he was right. Ridiculing managers as “bureaucrats” was just one indicator of his ineptitude – alienating with a single word the very people who had to implement his reforms.”

What do you think, do you agree and what has he left for Jeremy Hunt to pick up?

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