Medacs Healthcare

MAY 22/2013

Hunt announces £260m pot for technology to boost patient safety

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced £260 million in funding for technology aimed at improving patient safety and digitising the NHS by 2018. 

The move is set to ensure people in doctor and nursing jobs gain instant access to patient information so they are better informed when writing prescriptions and administering treatments. 

It is hoped the initiative will also help avoid wrong prescriptions, with 11 patients having died on the health system last year as a result of being issued an unsuitable medication. 

Figures from the Department of Health (DH) suggest errors in prescriptions are present in around eight per cent of hospital prescriptions, with studies indicating technology can halve these errors. 

"This fund will allow doctors and nurses to make the NHS safer by harnessing the very latest technology," Mr Hunt said. 

"If we are to improve patient safety then we must allow the NHS to have access to the best tools available and this fund will help them achieve that."

The pot will be used by hospitals to replace existing paper-based systems that keep track of patient details. 

It will be primarily used for electronic prescribing - that is, computer-generated prescriptions sent by the health professional directly to pharmacies - with a barcode used to stay on top of each unique patient. 

In addition, the funding will make it possible for electronic patient records to be accessed by doctors and nurses across the hospital at the click of a button, improving speed and accuracy within the service.  

National director for patients information within NHS England Tim Kelsey commented: "This step change in integrating diverse information sources around the needs to the patient will support clinicians and provider organisations deliver world class patient care." 

NHS hospitals can bid for a share of the pot but they must be able to demonstrate their ability to use the technology to lead to better and safer care, the statement from the DH said. 

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