Electronic patient records are now being used in 90% of hospital trusts, NHS England has announced.
A total of 189 trusts in England are using electronic record systems, meeting a target that the government set out in ‘A plan for digital health and social care‘, which was published by the Department of Health and Social Care in June 2022.
The plan stated that 90% of trusts should be using electronic health records by December 2023 and all hospital trusts in England should be using them by March 2025.
Speaking at the NHS Providers national conference and exhibition, held in Liverpool on 15 November 2023, Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, told the audience: “Thanks to the teams at Sheffield Health and Social Care and Hillingdon Hospitals, who completed their go-lives over the last couple of weeks, you have now delivered on the target for 90% of trusts to have this capability [of electronic health records] in place ahead of winter.
“Delivering that switch isn’t easy, but it’s worth it because that’s the underpinning work that will enable us to benefit from new technologies.”
Vin Diwakar, interim national director of transformation at NHS England, said: “I’m delighted that 90% of NHS trusts now have electronic patient record systems up and running in hospitals, and we’re continuing to provide support to the remaining 10% to get this vital technology in place.
“Electronic records will ensure health and care staff have access to patient information when and where it’s needed, supporting them to deliver care efficiently, effectively and safely.”
An earlier goal of eliminating paper prescribing and introducing digital prescribing across the NHS by 2024, included in the ‘NHS Long-Term Plan‘, has not been met.
In written evidence to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry into the provision of pharmacy services, published in June 2023, the DHSC said that a fifth (20%) of hospital trusts are still using a “high proportion” of paper-only prescriptions.
The DHSC evidence said: “The pandemic and the subsequent focus on recovery has meant the timeline of 2024 for implementing EPMA [electronic prescribing and medicines administration] has needed to be pushed out to 2025.
“However, the implementation of e-prescribing remains a key and appropriate deliverable as part of the vision to digitally transform the NHS.”
In September 2022, The Pharmaceutical Journal revealed that less than half (5 out of 11) of hospital trusts that responded to a freedom of information request had fully implemented an EPMA system, with trusts citing COVID-19 and software issues as causes for the delay.