"No patient should be victimised by IT failures" says College Chair

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, features in today’s BBC News responding to an investigation which found that NHS IT system failures have been linked to instances of serious patient harm.

Professor Hawthorne said: "GPs will be deeply concerned by the scale of the issue revealed here, especially when a significant number of Trusts are reporting incidents of potential harm as a result. The health and wellbeing of our patients is our number one priority, and it is distressing to think their care is being undermined by issues with IT infrastructure.

"When letters being sent to patients and GPs from hospitals are lost, it could mean that a patient doesn’t attend a vital hospital appointment. In some instances, the loss of a letter will have a more serious impact than others, but in this day and age no patient should be in danger of having their care jeopardised due to issues with administrative and IT systems. Nor should already overstretched GP teams be left to chase up letters patients haven’t received – although at least in the cases we know about, we can intervene, it is the cases we don't know about and therefore can’t follow up that are most concerning. 

"None of this is the fault of our colleagues in secondary care who, like us, are working under extraordinary pressures. These issues are problems within the IT infrastructure being used. We need urgent and careful action to identify the issue and address it, to ensure that none of our patients slip through the gaps, and are communicated with so they receive the care they need."

Further information

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.