Glasgow’s “major” health IT problem – a welcome openness

By Tony Collins

On its website this morning NHS Glasgow and Clyde, Scotland’s largest health board, has published an update about IT problems that technical staff have been unable to resolve. It says:

“Despite the best efforts of our IT technical staff who have worked throughout the night we have as yet been unable to resolve the problem. We have however been able to put in place a fix which we believe will ensure that chemotherapy patients are not affected by the continued IT issue.

“Unfortunately however there will still be some patients whose planned appointments today will be affected and we are currently in the process of assessing which patients this will impact upon. As soon as this has been identified we will contact the patients direct. Emergency care services are unaffected.

“We are continuing to work to get the system back on line as soon as possible and would like to apologise again to those patients who have been inconvenienced. A further update will be issued later this morning.”

The board issued its first bulletin yesterday evening.

“NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde experienced a major IT problem this morning. Our technical staff are working flat out resolve this. However as a result, we have had to postpone a number of operations, chemotherapy sessions and outpatient appointments.

“There was also some delay in calls to our switchboard being answered. The problem relates to our networks and the way staff can connect to some of our clinical and administrative systems.

“We can reassure patients affected that their care will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity. We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused and we are doing everything possible to return services to normal as quickly as possible.”

The board issued statistics on those affected.

“In total we have postponed: 288 outpatient appointments, four planned inpatient procedures, 23 day cases and 40 chemotherapy treatments.”

The board told the BBC that the problems might have affected up to 10 major hospitals.

Comment

NHS Glasgow and Clyde’s timely statements over its problems would suggest that Scotland is much more open about IT-related difficulties than any trust in England where web bulletins, when there are any after IT problems, are usually about patients who have not been affected.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw is right to say that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde “has been quick to admit to a serious problem”.

Trusts in England could learn something from NHS Glasgow and Clyde about openness and sound crisis management.

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