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Urgent test results not reaching GPs due to hospital IT issue

Exclusive Around 5% of pathology results from one of the largest hospital trusts in the country are not reaching patients’ GPs, Pulse has learned.

GPs in the Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest areas of east London told Pulse that they had not received a number of test results as expected since mid-September, exposing patients to potentially ‘serious clinical risk’.

Barts Health NHS Trust said that due to an IT problem a ‘small proportion’ of test results were ‘not being sent electronically to GPs’. It said that in the meantime GPs are able to use other means to chase up test results.

But London GP leaders argued that practices should not be lumbered with this extra workload and blamed the trust for putting patient safety at risk.

They said that the issue had affected both patients with acute health concerns and patients with long-term conditions such as for example diabetes.

Londonwide LMCs medical director Dr Elliott Singer said: ‘Practices do not have the resources or systems to be able to check all pathology results to identify this 5% of results that have not been received.’

According to Dr Singer, the trust needed to ‘take responsibility for this failure’ and take it upon themselves to review results and provide paper copies of the relevant results to practices ‘rather than expecting practices to take on the burden of this additional work’.

He said: ‘Failure to do so has the potential to lead to serious clinical risk for patients if a significantly abnormal result has not been sent to the practice.

‘As a minimum, patients will be significantly inconvenienced if they have to attend for repeat testing not to mention the waste of public resources this would entail.’

A spokesperson for Barts Health NHS Trust said: ‘We are aware that due to an IT problem a small proportion of pathology test results – approximately 5% of all results – are not being sent electronically to GPs. The issue is currently being investigated and a solution identified.’

The trust said that meanwhile practices ‘can continue to view results using health information exchange or contact a dedicated support line where a member of staff will assist them in obtaining a result’.

The spokesperson added: ‘We have a fully embedded safety process to thoroughly raise and investigate any safety concerns and we have not been notified of or asked to investigate any patient that has come to harm as a result of this issue…

‘We apologise for the inconvenience caused and are urgently working to rectify the issue.’

The news comes as Barts Health reported that it was badly affected by the NHS hack attack earlier this year, asking GPs in the immediate aftermath not to send any routine samples through to pathology as labs were ‘unable to process the usual volume of tests’.