‘Computer fault’ hits Royal Blackburn Hospital A&E

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HEALTH bosses wrote to GPs asking them to send only urgent referrals to the Royal Blackburn Hospital citing “significant pressure” on its emergency department after a computer glitch prevented access to patient records.

In an email sent to family doctors last week, Mr Chris Endersby, commissioning manager for urgent care at NHS East Lancashire, said there was severe pressure on beds in the emergency department and medical assessment unit.

But chiefs at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said the problem, which left doctors without access to computerised patient records, was caused by a computer fault and reassured patients the issues have now been resolved.

Mrs Val Bertenshaw, director of operations at the Trust, said: “A power surge in our computer server room last week led to severe communications difficulties across local health services, including long periods where clinicians were unable to access key patient administration systems for vital information such as pathology results, X-rays and patient records.

“The hospitals Trust and primary care trusts implemented our joint plans for just this kind of incident and reverted to paper and telephone-based communications. This was of course slower than our usual computerised systems so there were some delays which led to bed pressures, but the hospital continued to function as normal.

“In line with our joint plans, we contacted GPs to inform them of these pressures and ask for their help in ensuring patients continued to receive high-quality care. I would like to express my thanks to GPs for their co-operation. This is a real example of the closer working between hospital and community clinicians which is becoming a hallmark of health services in East Lancashire, Blackburn and Darwen.

“The problem has now been fixed and all systems are working as normal.”