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Clinical Safety and Compliance: The NHS’s Innovative Tech Investment and the Urgency for Safe Deployments

The digital transformation of health and care, driven by innovative health IT software, holds immense promise for improving patient care and streamlining health and care operations. However, the recent events in Royal Surrey FT, where a patient tragically lost their life, and the news in Newcastle Hospitals, where vital documents were not sent to patient’s GPs, serve as stark reminders of the critical importance of clinical safety and the need for rigorous procurement, compliance and on-going monitoring. As the UK government invests £30 million in innovative technology for the NHS, the urgency to ensure safe deployments has never been greater.

Health IT software has become vital in the healthcare sector’s digital revolution. Its potential to enhance patient care, automate administrative tasks, and revolutionise diagnostics is valuable. Yet, alongside this promise comes a responsibility—ensuring clinical safety and compliance from design through to post deployment.

The Critical Importance of Clinical Safety
Clinical safety means ensuring that the software deployed does not introduce harm to patients or impede the quality of care. It encompasses identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential hazards associated with the software’s design, intended use and deployment. Adhering to rigorous regulatory standards, such as DCB0129 and DCB0160, is essential for managing clinical risk of health IT systems including software, from both the manufacturers and the deploying sites perspectives.

The Consequences of Hasty Deployments
The rush to adopt innovative technology in healthcare can lead to hasty deployments, often bypassing essential processes and compliance requirements. This haste can result in a number of issues, including, lack of hazard assessments, operational mishaps, lack of governance and resource, regulatory non-compliance and so on. These consequences can have impacts on the end users, patient safety and the overall quality of healthcare provision.

Recent Events
The tragic incident in Royal Surrey FT, where a patient lost their life, due to the implementation of the new EPR system and Human Factors, and the Newcastle Hospital scandal, where vital documents wasn’t sent to the GP’s, demonstrate the real-world consequences of potential inadequate clinical safety and suboptimal software deployments. In Royal Surrey FT, a further 30 other patients were adversely affected. These events serve as a reminder of the need for robust procedures to prevent similar occurrences.

The Government’s Investment and the Call for Responsible Deployment
The UK government pledge’s to invest £30 million in innovative technology for the NHS is a commendable move. It holds the potential to accelerate the development and deployment of cutting-edge health IT solutions. However, this initiative also places a spotlight on the urgent necessity for rigorous clinical safety assessments and adherence to compliance.

Prioritising Patient Safety
The digital transformation of healthcare is a journey filled with the promise of improved patient care and more efficient healthcare operations. However, we must undertake this journey responsibly, with the core focus on patient safety. As the government invests in innovative technology for the NHS, the emphasis on clinical safety and adherence from procurement through to compliance standards must remain paramount. In doing so, we can harness the potential of health IT software to revolutionise patient care while safeguarding lives and ensuring that past tragedies serve as reminders to prevent future mishaps.