Red roseFiona Barr

Lancashire Care NHS Trust, the first mental health trust in England to go live with a patient administrative system under Connecting for Health, says its experience so far has been a positive one.

Declan Hadley, assistant director of IM&T at the trust, says the trust now wants to see local authorities included in the NHS Care Records Service (NCRS) as soon as possible as he says this will be essential to deliver the maximum benefit from the new system.

The trust covers 200 square miles across Lancashire with 900 in-patients beds. It is divided into four health communities, three of which – Central Lancashire, West Lancashire and Fylde Coast, have gone live with a PAS from north west cluster suppliers CSC Alliance since April. The fourth health community, east Lancashire, is expected to have its PAS up and running within the next couple of months.

Hadley says the trust was keen to switch to the NCRS as soon as possible because it was struggling to cope with the six legacy PAS systems run by acute trusts which it inherited when the trust was formed in 2001.

He told EHI Primary Care: “Bearing in mind where we started when we had hardly anything in terms of IT and technology this offers us a lot more. For example if a patient is first seen in Blackpool and then presents somewhere else unexpectedly, which mental health patients can do, it was very difficult to maintain a single record as we are required to do.”

Priorities on engagement

"I’m actually surprised to say myself that it’s gone reasonably well"

— Declan Hadley, assistant director of IM&T at Lancashire Care NHS Trust

Inpatient and outpatient administrative staff were the first to use the PAS but the trust plans to start using the software for community-based activity in the autumn.

Hadley said the plan is that west Lancashire health community will start using the system for referrals and caseload management in older peoples’ services in September and that depending on its success it would then be deployed to older peoples’ services elsewhere in the trust.

The trust placed a high priority on clinical engagement from the beginning of the project.

Hadley said: “I used to be a clinician myself so I’m very keen on getting clinical engagement. From the beginning we have had six clinical specialists seconded to the project team including G grade nurses and an occupational therapist and the consultants now want us to appoint a lead consultant to be involved in the project as well.”

He added: “We have got staff who were very negative about it before and now say, ‘Actually it’s alright; in fact I quite like it.’

On the supplier side Hadley said relationships locally were good.

He added: “Although there have been problems, CSC have taken them on the chin and resolved them locally. The local people we have been involved with have been brilliant.”

Sceptre Point, Lancashire Care NHS Trust's headquarters‘Work to do’

Hadley says clinicians will not be using the system for clinical assessment as it stands but when extended clinical functionality is available the trust hopes to use it as soon as possible, probably in summer next year. He added: “I still think we’ve got a lot of work to do. I’d estimate we’re probably 25 to 30 per cent through what needs doing so we’ve got a lot of change to do yet.”

Hadley said he believed the national programme now needed to focus on the inclusion of local authorities. He added: “That couldn’t come quickly enough for us. We work in fully integrated teams and that will be essential for us in terms of delivering mental health services.”

Overall Hadley said the experience had been a positive one.

He added: “I wouldn’t say it’s been entirely smooth but what IT project is? I’m actually surprised to say myself that it’s gone reasonably well.”

North west developments

Elsewhere in the north west cluster the 14 PCTs in Greater Manchester are also in the process of implemented patient administration systems provided by local service provider CSC Alliance.

Roger Dewhurst, chief information officer for Greater Manchester SHA, told the Health and Social Care Exchange conference in London earlier this month that the NPfIT implementation plan was just one key part of the SHA’s improvement plans; an enabling component in the transformation of health and social care services across Greater Manchester.

Dewhurst told the meeting that Choose and Book was a key priority for the SHA.

He added: “We are making sure that we have got NHS numbers on record on our legacy systems and taken the duplicate records out of our indices. I think we have been quite successful. 98-99% of our PAS records have validated numbers across Greater Manchester."