Personal experience convinced a new national clinical lead (NCL) for Connecting for Health that electronic records were an important future development.

Dr Joe McDonald, 46, a consultant at South of Tyne and Wearside, who will be the new NCL for mental health, explained: “Two weeks before our wedding, I got a telephone call from an accident and emergency department to say my wife [to-be] Fiona had crashed her car into a lorry and was in a coma.

“I jumped in my car and drove the 20 miles to the hospital in record time. I arrived to find my wife awaiting neurosurgery. The staff were unaware that Fiona was an insulin dependent diabetic and was merely suffering from hypoglycaemia and a bump on the head. After the administration of glucose she was perfectly well in 15 minutes.”

He says that if staff had been able to access his wife’s records, they would have been aware that she was a diabetic, and could have administered glucose immediately.

“Electronic records strike me as a good idea. I am looking forward to the challenge of developing electronic care records in mental health, where every recent report into psychiatric disaster has pointed the finger at ‘failure to communicate’.”

Dr McDonald is one of eight newly appointed CfH NCLs, who CfH say will build on the current work being done to involve their colleagues in the National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

The new NCLs practice across a variety of medical fields including ophthalmology, pathology, diabetes, mental health, public health and medication management and represent their own professional groups.

Their role is to involve colleagues directly in developing the benefits the National Programme offers to clinical practice. They take up their appointments between now and April.

Dr Nigel Beasley, 43, a consultant Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon and deputy medical director at Queens’ Medical Centre Nottingham and Dr Robert Pitcher, 54, medical director trained at Treliske Hospital in Cornwall, will both be NCLs for hospital doctors.

Dr Adrian Scott is becoming a NCL for diabetes. He is consultant physician in diabetes and general medicine at the Diabetes Centre, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.

Dr Gifford Batstone, 64, will be NCL for pathology. He works at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals where he is also involved in teaching medical students.

Sharon Hart, 44, a freelance healthcare management consultant, will become NCL for medication management.

Mr John Sparrow, 53, will become NCL for ophthalmology. He has been a consultant ophthalmologist at the Bristol Eye Hospital since

Mr Sparrow has worked on and had published a range of national benchmarking and audit projects covering most of the common ophthalmological conditions, the most recent having been an analysis of Electronic Patient Record (EPR) cataract care data from 55,567 operations.

Finally, Miss Parul Desai will become NCL for public health. She is presently consultant in ophthalmology and public health at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and was clinical lead on the CfH ‘Do Once and Share’ Glaucoma programme between 2006 to 2007 and is the Clinical Lead on the ‘Eyes & Vision Specialist Library’ programme for the National Library for Health.

Miss Desai said: “As a consultant in public health in an acute provider trust, my epidemiological interests lie at the interface between community and hospital-based health services, principally in the areas of needs assessment, outcomes assessment, measurement and standardisation of clinical criteria, and clinical audit.”


Connecting for Health