NHS Borders’ apology over treatment time guarantees

NHS Borders.
NHS Borders.

NHS Borders has apologised to almost 100 patients who exceeded treatment time guarantees or are at risk of doing so due to a computer glitch.

Health chiefs this week issued a statement explaining that the issue affected people added to waiting lists between September 2 last year and January 6 this year.

Some 38 out of 1,767 patients listed for treatment missed their targets – with the maximum delay being 11 days.

In 20 of these cases, the time delay for treatment was four days or less. In a further 11 cases, the impact of the delay was between four and seven days.

And they added that a further 60 patients who were still to receive treatment were at risk of exceeding their treatment time guarantee (TTG).

Every patient whose guarantee date has been affected has been sent a letter of explanation and apology from the health board.

NHS Borders says the temporary error in its data entry system, which has been to blame for the problems, has been fixed and the system is now functioning as intended.

Of the 60 patients who have yet to receive treatment and might be affected by the problem, NHS Borders says

steps are being taken to minimise this impact and treatment dates will be agreed directly with these patients,

It is anticipated that all other patients who were listed during the period and have still to get treatment, will be treated before their treatment time guarantee date.

NHS Borders also pointed out that all dates for treatment that have previously been agreed with patients remain unaffected by this situation, unless they have been notified otherwise.

Commenting on the circumstances of the data entry system incident, NHS Borders head of information management and technology (IM&T) Jackie Stephen explained this week: “The cause of this error was a configuration error within our IT system, and regretfully the treatment time guarantee for a small number of patients has been affected.

“I would like to apologise on behalf of the board for any inconvenience that this has caused.”

Chair of the Borders General Hospital clinical board, Dr Hamish McRitchie, also wanted to make it clear that the health authorities had moved quickly to remedy the situation and commented: “I would like to reassure the public that we have taken this situation very seriously and every effort is being taken to minimise the impact for our patients.

“The efforts of staff in recognising and correcting the error are to be commended, and our learning will be fed into future system developments and checks.”