The new IT system currently being rolled out across all NHS Trusts in England is to have all the correct boxes pre-ticked, in a move designed to improve performance. Many trusts are also struggling financially with the restrictions caused by PFI contracts and are looking to reduce costs, most of which are staff costs. This move is also expected to improve accuracy as the operators don’t have to struggle with all the difficult questions any more.
“It's a win,win,win situation” said one trust finance director, who wished to remain anonymous. “We can employ people with fewer skills and training, as all the correct boxes appear on screen pre-ticked. All the operator has to do is click ‘OK’, even a monkey could do that”.
It is also believed that, as part of the data collection function, less errors will be made in data input and therefore Trust KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators, or targets) will be met more often. Targets have to achievable and measurable, so some of these are also due to be “tweeked” to ensure they are met more often, a lesson learned from the rail industry.
Critics of the system have pointed out that going back to the basics of care, reducing the reporting requirements and employing more nurses and carers would have a better impact on patients. Trust managers, however, have welcomed the move, with one quoted as saying “When I worked at Barclays we introduced this. My bonus that year was huge, and look where the banks are now”.