The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has introduced software from Medisec to meet NHS targets for the delivery of discharge summaries.

The system allows the trust to know when clinical correspondence has been delivered to GPs, helping it to meet targets in the NHS standard contract. This says that trusts must deliver discharge summaries to GPs within 72 hours, with a target of 24 hours by April 2011.

Margaret Cosens, trust IM&T programme manager, explains: “For the first time, we can measure the time between a patient’s discharge and the delivery of the discharge document to GPs; between a patient’s clinic appointment and the clinic letter being delivered.

“By identifying backlogs and areas where action is needed, we will have the information at hand to work with our own teams. We can improve communications with our GP partners and ultimately we will deliver better patient care.”

Last week, the NHS Alliance said hospitals should now not be paid until they have delivered prompt, accurate and complete discharge information.

It said a survey published at its annual conference showed that one in four GPs felt patient safety had been put at risk in the previous six months, because of a lack of adequate discharge information.

Tom Rothwell, managing director of Medisec Software, said the technology would help trusts to avoid the finanical penalties being leveraged against them by primary care trusts.

He added: “If one hospital guarantees that it will be sending clinical updates on patients within three days, and the other offers a lottery where discharge notes can arrive months after the event, PCTs will simply vote with their feet.”

The software deployed by the trust adds to the clinical correspondence system it already has in place, which automates many routine tasks and allows discharge notification letters to be issued rapidly.

Link: Medisec Software