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GPs may have failed to receive thousands of discharge summaries from a trust

An NHS trust has launched a serious incident investigation after its IT system failed to keep a record of whether 14,600 discharge records were sent to local GPs.

While East and North Herts Hospital NHS Trust has said there is ‘no evidence’ that patients have been harmed, they said the missing records could have requested a further appointment or a test carried out.

Consultants at the trust will manually look through all unsent records, starting with the most recent, to identify outstanding actions.

GP leaders have said the issue will cause ‘extreme anxiety’ for patients and GPs, who will face an influx of work as a result.

A letter, first published in Huffington Post, sent last week from managers at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust to GPs revealed that ‘14,600 records have been identified where it is not clear on the system whether or not the discharge summary was sent’ following the installation of the Lorenzo patient records system.

The IT system showed ‘initial teething problems’ when it was installed in September 2017 but it was ten months before ‘a thorough investigation revealed that a more systemic problem’ in July 2018.

The letter added that consultants at the trust would manually look through all unsent records, starting with the most recent, to find ‘where an outstanding action is identified and established as not having happened’.

The trust apologised for ‘the potential additional workload this may cause’ for GPs and said it would resend ‘outstanding discharge summaries… in small batches’.

However, BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey, told Pulse: ‘GPs rely on these discharge letters to plan proper care and this is another clear example of an NHS IT failure that has left patients and GPs bearing the brunt.

‘As well as the extreme anxiety this will cause patients, it will also have a clear impact on local GPs’ workloads that must be considered in the trust’s response.’

Last week, health secretary Matt Hancock described trusts’ inability to access GP records as ‘downright dangerous’ as ‘systems need to be able to talk to each other’.

Dr Michael Chilvers, medical director of the Trust said an investigation had been launched and so far ‘there is no evidence that any patients have come to harm’.

He said: ‘The Trust is prioritising the review of discharge summaries for those patients where a follow-up action (such as a further appointment or test being carried out) might have been needed.

He added that the trust ‘will take the lead in getting them sorted – this will include informing any individual patients involved, as well as their GPs’.

The CQC and NHS Improvement have also been informed and both confirmed they were monitoring the trust closely and working with other agencies.

A spokesperson for the CQC said: ‘We will also review any findings from the trust’s own investigation to see if there is any action CQC needs to take.’

DXC Technologies, which manufactures Lorenzo, also declined to comment.