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Digital Health Highlights

Cambridge put in special measures
System C buys The Learning Clinic
East London exchanges health information

Welcome [*data('2.first_name')|html*] Issue No 702, 25 September 2015 twitter contact



Opinion is polarising around the news that, following a recommendation from the Care Quality Commission and its own inquiry, Monitor has decided to put Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust into special measures.

While the move had been widely predicted, following the departure of the trust’s chief executive and finance director last week, it still came as a shock. Cambridge is one of the most high profile trusts in the country and one that likes to see itself as an international centre of excellence and research; although this may, ironically, have been one of the factors that led the CQC to rate it ‘inadequate.’

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, hinted that the commission had found a culture clash at the trust that had caused a “disconnect” between the front line and senior management so bad that they had different ideas about whether they were trying to run a DGH or a tertiary centre.

Interestingly, while management journals have all-but launched campaigns in support of chief executive Keith McNeil, and a body of consultants reportedly wants him back, comments on the local Cambridge Evening News website have been far less supportive or flattering.

It’s possible to see that this would be a less than ideal environment into which to introduce a major electronic patient record system; particularly one that requires total buy-in to working in a particular way. But the CQC report indicates that since it went live with its eHospital programme, the trust has experienced booking, reporting and audit data issues that can’t be helping with the demand, financial and quality pressure it is under.

Comments on Digital Health News are divided about the contribution made to Cambridge’s problems by the culture, the EPR route chosen, and the wider strains on the NHS. But lessons need to be learned. Because the NHS needs to digitise; cultural divisions are not rare; and financial pressure is not going away.



Cambridge put in special measures

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been put into special measures by Monitor, which says the trust's e-hospital programme has caused "significant cost increases", while benefits have not been realised.

East Sussex faces special measures

The Care Quality Commission has recommended that East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust be put into special measures with access to patient records cited as an area that needs improvement.

System C buys The Learning Clinic

System C has bought mobile clinical specialist The Learning Clinic, best known for the VitalPAC vital signs recording software.

East London exchanges health information

Barts Health NHS Trust is exchanging patient information in real time with more than 100 practices across East London via Cerner’s Health Information Exchange. delayed by two years

Final approval for the ‘pathfinder’ stage of the controversial programme to go ahead will not be given until early next year.

5,000 GP practices offer e-prescriptions

More than 5,000 GP practices in England offer electronic prescriptions and 15 million patients have signed up for the service.

Ripple provides integration support

A new programme aims to support NHS organisations looking to develop an integrated digital care record using an open source model.



Where are the nation’s GPs going to come from in the future? It’s a real question, as an alarming number of the country’s general practitioners say they’d very much like to retire early, and medical students show little if any enthusiasm for family doctoring as a career.

The Royal College of General Practitioners, NHS England and the General Practice Committee have just launched a recruitment campaign, aimed at would-be doctors, with social media slots and YouTube videos assuring them there is “nothing general about general practice.”

Oddly, the first ad features a couple skydiving. A new way for GPs to get to work? A new offer for those who make it to ten years? No, just part of a video arguing that GPs have the opportunity to influence people’s lives, and perhaps sign the consent form that will help somebody to ‘fulfil their dream of a charity skydive.’ Slightly odd. It’s a paper form, as well.


Intelerad MPU



Another view: of point of care testing

GP Neil Paul reckons he could offer a cheaper, better testing service to patients. If only NHS funding flows didn’t get in the way.

Asking the question

Thomas Meek visits a GP surgery in Romford that is trying out AskMyGP; an online access service that is trying to prevent unnecessary appointments; an idea right in line with local ‘vanguard’ work.


Featured comment


“Well done for having a crack! Every night I get down on my knees and thank the Lord that the people in charge of my vital local services don’t ‘have a crack’. ”

By: Other
Story: Cambridge put in special measures.


Quote of the week


“There is going to be a need for a conversation in this country, sooner rather than later, that says ‘we have to find more money for the health service, one way or another.’ At the moment, the expectation is that the health service is going to make £22 billion of further efficiencies by 2020. I have to say I am very sceptical about whether that is doable.”

Sir Jonathan Michael, who is stepping down as chief executive of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to rejoin the healthcare IT sector at 6PM, talks to his local paper. His own trust needs to make £47 million of savings in the next 12 months, on top of £220 million made as part of the ‘Nicholson Challenge.’


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