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Child health IT systems under review

Connecting for Health is to review the options for child health computing after the disastrous implementation of a scheme across London.

Government advisers on vaccination warned 10 London PCTs were still having desperate problems scheduling child appointments, raising fears over the future of child health systems across the country.

The problems relate to the Child Health Interim Application (CHIA), installed in spring 2005 after the old monitoring system was removed. Many children in London remain apparently unimmunised as a result, with 'backlogs of data spanning over a year'.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation reported that Connecting for Health officials had met ministers to discuss the problems.

'Although there was some disagreement as to whether the problems were managerial, software or operational, all agreed a solution needed to be found quickly and that once agreed, PCTs should come in line with the recommendations as quickly as possible.'

New system RIO will be used as an interim measure – but the JCVI said the 'required functionality' would not be available for another three years. Connecting for Health and Department of Health officials have formed a group to review software options.

Dr Kambiz Boomla, chair of City and East London LMC, said: 'A lot of people were saying that designing a children's health system wasn't simple, and these concerns turned out to be true.'

He added: 'RIO can't be worse than CHIA, because CHIA didn't work. RIO is already used for health visitors and district nurses, so it is a community system.'

Web-based system RIO was first implemented in 2002, and combines patient registration, admission data and appointment scheduling with the ability to record clinical notes.

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