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NHS records system classifies live patients as ‘dead’

Lorenzo, the software system designed to connect the patient records of 30 million people across England, has failed to live up to its promises, The Times reports. According to the National Audit Office, the software system has suffered from 3,128 defects.

The computer screen has indicated that some patients are dead when, in fact, they are very much alive. Doctors refuse to touch virtual records, preferring their pen-and-paper notes.

The health service is refusing a request under the Freedom of Information Act to provide details of the debacle, claiming that disclosure might damage the US manufacturer’s share price.

The software is produced by the US group Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and was introduced back in June at the University Hospital of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

Morecambe Bay has claimed that false death reports were “purely a cosmetic screen presentation issue”. There had been a problem, it added, “where patients were being shown as deceased on screen when clearly they were not. We established the issue was as a result of the upgrade not completing 100 per cent correctly”.

But the hospital’s refusal to disclose information requested under FoIA raises suspicion over the true nature of events.

CSC’s Lorenzo system was described by Richard Bacon MP, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, who has tracked failings in NHS IT, as the “one of the most egregious mistakes” of the NHS IT saga. “I hadn’t heard of the term ‘vapour ware’ at the time but that’s what it was,” he said. “It hadn’t been written. It was just an idea in somebody’s head.”

Because of delays in developing Lorenzo, CSC has developed 81 such systems to trusts whose software was in urgent need of replacing. While the Department of Health considers them substandard under the aims of its national IT programme, it has said that it does not expect all of them to be replaced.

The Department of Health refused to provide specific information about Lorenzo. The department said: “In relation to the class action, if this information has an impact on the current case, it is likely to be reflected in the CSC share price.”

Controversial new school banding system designed to raise performance shows best and worst in Wales

Nearly a third of Wales’ 22 local authorities have no school in the Welsh Government’s top cluster, while some councils lay claim to as many as 85% in the bottom two bands. Blaenau Gwent and Pembrokeshire – both the subject of recent damning reports into standards – recorded a large proportion of schools in Bands Four and Five. The banding process is designed to help local authorities support their schools more effectively, with high-performing secondaries expected to share best practice.

Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews warned failing schools that they would be held accountable by the public: “You cannot un-invent the Freedom of Information Act – parents and pupils have a right to know what is best in Wales and how their schools measure up.”

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