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Roll-out of flagship computer system faces delays amid concerns over the safety of patients

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The roll-out of a flagship computer system faces being delayed amid serious concerns over the safety of vulnerable patients, it's been admitted.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is currently trying to put in place the Welsh Community Care Information System (WCCIS) for July 2019, but senior executives say the system as it stands is 'sub-standard' and they are not prepared to 'go live' with it until issues have been resolved.

The concerns were raised at the health board's latest Information Governance Committee.

A significant cause of concern was around the potential for duplicate patient records to be created, meaning that anyone accessing a record, may not have the full picture of an individual's needs. In turn, this could lead to incorrect decisions being made around patient care, it was said.

One member of the committee said of the risk that "it's fundamental. This is about vulnerable children and adults."

WCCIS is a key part of the 'A healthier Wales' strategy - the Welsh Government's long term plan for the NHS.

Implementing a new ICT system across 22 local authorities and 7 health boards in Wales is clearly a complicated process. Whilst implementation has either taken place or is progressing within timescales for most partners, there have been technical issues that have led to delays, including in relation to Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. We continue to work with partners to resolve any delays and support the delivery of this important new system.

While Aneurin Bevan will be the second health board to implement WCCIS, users in a number of Health Boards are able to access the system ahead of complete implementation in their organisations. They are already seeing benefits of being able to share information with social care colleagues.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is working alongside the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) and CareWorks, who were awarded the contract in 2015 to deliver the service.

The committee heard how CareWorks is said to have alerted the health board that it doesn't currently expect to be able to deliver WCCIS in time for July 2019. CareWorks has been approached for comment.

Concerns were also raised around the assurances given to the health board by NWIS. Nicola Prygodzicz, Executive Director of Planning, Digital and IT at the health board said any decisions over implementation or delay to WCCIS needed to be "factual and evidence based not just on what people plan or say."

Representing NWIS, Deputy Director of ICT Programmes David Sheard, was later asked when - should the July 2019 deadline not be met - the new system would be in place. He did not give a date, instead saying further discussions needed to take place.

NWIS has been asked for further comment.

A spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “The Welsh Community Care Information System (WCCIS) is a ground breaking programme which is one of the first to enable closer working between NHS community services and social care on a national basis.

“In the last few days we were notified that there will be a delay in the delivery of the WCCIS in the Health Board area. We are continuing to work with the supplier, the NHS Wales Informatics Service, and Welsh Government to identify and resolve any issues.

“We remain fully committed to the successful delivery of the Welsh Community Care Information System in our Health Board area.”