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£260m invested in patient safety plans

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a new £260m fund for hospitals, in response to the Francis report’s calling to make better use of technology to improve safe, effective care within the NHS.

Last year at least 11 people died in the NHS because they were given the wrong prescriptions. This fund will be used to increase the use of technology which will help stop drugs being prescribed incorrectly because patients’ notes have been lost.

Errors in prescriptions are present in as many as 8% of hospital prescriptions and studies have shown that the use of technology can cut these errors by half.

The fund will help protect patients by ensuring that doctors and nurses are able to access accurate details about the care of a patient. And it will make a patient’s journey through different parts of the NHS much safer, because their records can follow them electronically wherever they go.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This fund will allow doctors and nurses to make the NHS safer by harnessing the very latest technology.

“In many places, right now, a paramedic picking up a frail elderly woman who has had a fall will not always know she has dementia, because he or she cannot access her notes. Or a doctor is prescribing the wrong drugs, because they don’t know what drugs their patient is already on.

“If we are to improve patient safety then we must allow the NHS to have access to the best tools available and this fund will help themachieve that.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England said: “This new fund will help patients get better and safer care by giving clinicians access to the right information when they need it most.

“Supporting hospitals to replace outdated paper systems for notes and prescriptions will help relieve patients’ frustration at having to repeat their medical and medication history over and over again, often in the same hospital, because their records aren’t available.”