"Lack of inter-hospital communication."

About: Western General Hospital / General Surgery

(as the patient),

This is a follow up to a story I posted earlier this week and I felt should have a page of it's own as it shows NHS Lothian reluctance to admit that the seven and a half million pound spent on the IT system TRAK just does not work and they still spend vast resources on paper records.

Prior to any procedure involving a general anaesthetic it is usual to see the anaesthetist which I did and she told me she was concerned that placing the breathing tube down my throat was a safety issue to me given that following radiation therapy my mouth has restricted movement as does my neck. So she suggested I have a spinal anaesthesia where upon I would have been awake whilst the procedure would be carried out. Given the nature of my condition this I was not prepared to accept.

I pointed out that I had had several biopsies and a couple of throat dilations all performed under the normal general anaesthetic with out issue and could she, the consultant anaesthetist, not have a look at the notes by the anaesthetists on my previous procedure. But it turns out this is not possible as the notes are on paper and at another hospital rather than copied into TRAK thereby allowing others to access them when necessary.

My operation was almost cancelled but for the persuasion of the very professional and I might add caring anaesthetist we went a slightly different route to install the breathing tube so operation went ahead.

Why I have to ask is important information that other health care professional might need not available via TRAK? This is not the first time that I have come up against the ineffectiveness of TRAK. Surely in the 21st century all information on a patient should be available to anyone in any hospital or medical facility within NHS Lothian. yet wherever you go it is paper form after paper form with little of the information actually copied onto NHS Lothian's own IT system.

How many mistakes etc can be attributed to this lack of modern data handling?

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Responses

Update posted by MrFraggle (the patient)

Not a word from NHS Lothian on this quite important matter. I wonder why that is?

Response from Jeannette Morrison, Head of Patient Experience, NHS Lothian

Dear MrFraggle,

I’m sorry to hear of your recent experience but pleased that through the professionalism and care of the anaesthetist that your operation was able to proceed.

I’d like to take this opportunity to give you some information about the TRAK system. It is used by the vast majority of clinical staff across NHS Lothian. It is increasingly being used for more granular clinical purposes rather than its initial role of clinical administration management such as appointment and waiting list information. NHS Lothian, like all NHS organisations have a huge legacy of paper. To effectively eliminate paper we need to digitise the historical casenote information we have, which equate to circa 5 million casenotes in NHS Lothian alone.

Earlier in 2015 NHS Lothian embarked on a multi-year programme aimed at using TRAK in the way you describe. This requires significant investment both to digitise the historical casenotes but also to increase the number of PCs across the organisation to allow clinicians to have reliable access to this new digital information. It is expected that this programme will last 4 years.

During this time, our staff will continue to work together to ensure the best possible care is delivered.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Kind regards

Jeannette Morrison

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Update posted by MrFraggle (the patient)

So in 2015 NHS Lothian embarked on a multi-year programme aimed at using TRAK in the way you describe. This requires significant investment both to digitise the historical case notes. I don't think a year cannot be described as historical. Information is not being added now as I am still having to answer the same questions each time I go for a pre-admission and the answers are still being written Why is the form not online, within TRAK and only changes need to be added. I understand that TRAK cost £6,9 million and has been beset by failures from day one or the anecdotal evidence given to me from Dr's and consultants over the past 7 years is false.

I can give several instances where TRAK has failed on a personal level and this is over the past 7 years and as far as I can see it is not getting any better. The system cannot talk to other of the many systems used within the NHS Lothian or even within a particular hospital.

So your final statement "our staff will continue to work together to ensure the best possible care is delivered." How can that be when they do not have access to essential information?