NHS computers 'failing to assist in patient care'

Patients are not seeing the benefits they should from computer systems brought in to operate alongside nurses on hospital wards, the Audit Commission says in a report published today.

The commission, which keeps a check on health service spending, claims that NHS staff have been rushed into producing statistics for NHS managers and expensive computer systems installed to help with this pay little consideration to the way nurses work.

The document comes within a week of the introduction of the NHS Information Management and Technology Strategy - a plan to computerise the entire NHS. At its launch, Tom Sackville, Under-Secretary for Health, said the strategy would bring in national standards and stringent financial controls for NHS computing. The health service has a poor track record for installing effective computer systems. The last few years have seen numerous examples of regions and individual hospitals spending millions of pounds on systems that have failed to prove their worth.

Nurses had hoped computers would help them to do their jobs better, but the report said that some of the systems did 'not reflect the ways in which nursing in acute wards is changing towards more patient-led care'.

Ray Rogers, executive director of the NHS Information Management Group, said yesterday that NHS staff should not have unrealistic expectations of computer systems. 'If these are put in to handle nurse rostering, then that's all they can be expected to do.'

He acknowledged that in the past many NHS computers had been put in place solely with a view to producing statistics, but said the latest approach was to build everything around patients and the way NHS staff carry out their jobs. The commission's national study found nurses were unenthusiastic about using computers because of frustrations with systems that produced more work for them but showed no obvious benefit for patients.

Further evidence of a mid-year cash crisis in the health service emerged yesterday when the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford said it was delaying or postponing non- urgent surgery. It is treating only emergency cases. Hundreds of patients who need non-urgent surgery such as hip replacements, hysterectomies and hernias, must wait until the next financial year starts on 1 April 1993.

Caring Systems: A Handbook for Managers of Nursing and Project Managers, the Audit Commission, HMSO; pounds 9.50.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific