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NHS trust goes paperless

It has barely been two weeks since Health Secretary called on NHS Trusts to go paperless by 2018 and already there is news of the successful rolling out of such an initiative at St Helens and Knowsley.

The Guardian reports that the Trust spent £1.2m to go paperless, but estimates that the move will save at least £3.2m over five years.

Just over a year ago, St Helens and Knowsley put the last of its 500,000 patient records on line, following a three-year process that involved working with 88 local GPpractices and two other trusts.

The Trust’s director of informatics, Neil Darvill, says that twelve months after going paperless, the benefits are already being felt. He told the Guardian: "If, for example, a patient arrives unconscious and the staff can see from theirrecord that they have bouts of unconsciousness, they know that they can wait until the patient regains consciousness and then they can be sent home."

He added: "If they didn't have immediate access to the electronic record, it is likely that the patient would have to undergo lots of diagnostic tests and be admitted to hospital overnight."

The St Helens and Knowsley initiative could serve as a model for the future to help other Trusts to collaborate by following a set of national standards while remaining free to design their own local electronic system.