Three primary care trusts in North Cumbria have begun implementation of new community PAS systems that connect with the NHS data spine, as part of the NHS National Programme for IT.

District nurses and community hospital staff across three PCTs, Carlisle and District, Eden Valley and West Cumbria, are now beginning to use the system installed by the CSC Alliance (CSCA), the Local Service Provider (LSP) for the North West and West Midlands cluster. EHI Primary Care understands that the systems are iSOFT’s native iPM (iSOFT Patient Manager) and iSOFT Clinical Manager, the latest spine-enabled version of the CSCA reference solution and components of the Lorenzo EPR.

Patrick McGahon, finance director at North Cumbria Primary Care Trusts, the umbrella organisation for the PCTs, told EHI Primary Care that the decision was taken to start implementing the new PAS systems in community care because those systems were the oldest: "Our local acute trust had just implemented a new PAS."

The system is essentially administrative, said McGahon, allowing appointment booking and record access. Training classes were held for around 500 staff in 48 locations across North Cumbria to use the new system. "We worked on a train the trainer basis," explained McGahon. "Staff have to pass a small test at the end of the course."

The PCT’s patient data is held and updated on the spine, although full electronic healthcare records remain some way off. Said McGahon: "We’re looking at 18 months to two years with that."

McGahon said that transferring across the data between the systems was relatively straightforward: "We have done a data cleaning exercise. We have taken info that was on the PAS system and transferred that onto the new system."

Nigel Woodcock, chief executive of the Primary Care Trusts in North Cumbria, said of the system: "It will lead initially to better patient administration and in the next phase include real-time clinical information. This will lead to further improvements in clinical decision-making and better patient care."

Ian Johnson, account executive for CSCA, praised the working relationship between staff and the LSP, calling it a "major milestone" for the implementation of the programme in the area.