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Independents' Day

Glitches send vaccine uptake plunging

Uptake rates for childhood vaccines have plummeted in some areas of London because of ongoing failures in a computer re-cords system, new figures reveal.

The Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation expressed its 'great concern' over the impact of the problems on the child vaccine programme.

Vaccine uptake at Tower Hamlets PCT has slumped to just 40 per cent – less than half the target rate – since introduction of the Child Health Interim Application.

A source at the trust said: 'The core of the child health system is the call and recall. But this has not been happening efficiently for at least two years. This is probably why uptake is so low.'

Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP in Tower Hamlets, said: 'Up until recently we couldn't print letters and couldn't cope with the backlog. It completely discredits the immunisation programme locally. People will think we don't know what we are doing. The whole thing is a complete sham.'

Dr Boomla was unconvinced a new system would solve the problems the system had created: 'It will take five years and for a new cohort to reach age five before we recover the information we have lost.'

Government adviser Professor Brent Taylor, professor of community child health at University College Hospital London, described the problems as 'astonishingly awful'.

At a recent meeting, London Connecting for Health agreed it would provide funding for individual PCTs to choose their own interim computerised record systems. But Professor Taylor warned that RiO, the currently recommended alternative, was also 'not suitable for paediatric record systems'.

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