Six mental health trusts in London are now using new IT systems, delivered under the NHS IT programme, to help deliver better care to patients.
The six trusts, which account for 60% of the mental health trusts in the capital, are now using these new computerised patient record systems, as part of a London-wide NHS IT upgrade.
Each of the trusts have received CSE Servelec's RiO mental health system, installed by BT the local service provider for London. NHS London says the systems provide part of the foundations for the NHS Care Records Service.
Thanks to the RiO software information is now available to, and can be exchanged between, the many different staff working in mental health services when it needed. Mental health care often depends on many different health professionals working together to provide complex packages of care.
The six trusts to receive the software are Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS trust, North East London, West London, East London and the City, and Barnet, Enfield and Haringey NHS mental health trusts.
Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust was one of the first of the mental health trusts in London to have completed a trust-wide switch to electronic records. The trust serves three London boroughs with a combined population of about a million people.
Dr Hashim Reza, consultant psychiatrist and clinical director at the trust, said the London mental healthcare community now had a computerised patient record system as good as any in the world. "It is helping clinicians to provide the best care to our patients by giving them the information they need at their fingertips, when and where they need it."
He added: "The true beneficiaries of this project are patients and it is heartening that these advances are taking place in the mental health sector which is so often at the back of the queue."
Dr Reza said that the introduction of new systems inevitably required a big culture change. "In the early stages people were still in a culture shock, change on this kind of scale takes people a while to adjust to."
Dr Morris Zwi is a consultant psychiatrist at South West London and St George's mental health NHS trust, added: "The new system is especially useful in cases where many health professionals are involved, for instance in eating disorders. Each patient works with at least a psychiatrist, dietician and family therapist. Sometimes it's very difficult for us all to catch up and see how patients are progressing."
Dr Zwi said that as a result of the new system "getting hold of the most up-to-date information from each member of the care team is straight forward".
Martin Baggaley, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust medical director and consultant psychiatrist, and former clinical lead for the NHS London Programme for IT, said: "The new systems are all about making life simpler - simpler for NHS staff to access patient data which is in the right place at the right time, and simpler for patients to deal with a more efficient NHS.
"These six London mental health trusts now have a modern IT system to support key clinical services. This is a continuing process which will improve patient care and allow the clinicians working for the trusts to work in a more efficient way. This is a first step towards a fully integrated electronic patient record."
Eventually it is intended to link the mental health record software to a wider system of integrated electronic patient records system, to enable NHS staff to access patient records by linking with other hospitals and NHS and social care organisations in London and across the rest of the country. In London the main software for the hospital sector will be supplied by Cerner, while INPS will provide GP software.
Paul White, chief executive of BT's London Programme, said: "I'm delighted with the progress BT has made in mental health with the deployment of CSE Servelec's RiO system. This has already brought tangible benefits to patients and the people who care for them."
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