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Public Accounts Committee to revisit NHS Informatics after COVID-19 reporting errors

07/05/2020

Over the past two years the Welsh Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has looked at problems with NHS Wales ICT systems, as part of its inquiry into the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS). The Committee’s concerns have re-emerged after it was revealed that two health boards were underreporting the number of coronavirus deaths.  This is due to both health boards not using the electronic ‘All Wales System’ for reporting. 

A Welsh Government investigation was launched after 84 deaths were missed from data provided by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. The investigation also revealed that a further 31 deaths from the Hywel Dda University Health Board area were originally missed from the Public Health Wales statistics.

Chair of the Senedd’s Public Accounts Committee, Nick Ramsay MS said: 

“A significant amount of public money has been spent on NHS ICT systems in Wales and for many years these systems have suffered from problems in terms of functionality and performance. The misreporting of coronavirus deaths this spring has highlighted that the problems highlighted by the Public Accounts Committee still exist. A lack of consistent electronic reporting has led to an undercount of Covid 19 related deaths over the period of the pandemic. This has serious consequences in terms of monitoring the pandemic and informing the actions needed to overcome the virus.

“While we welcome some recent developments to improve NHS Informatics in Wales, such as the Welsh Government’s ‘A healthier Wales’, which places an increased emphasis on digital technology for the future, and a commitment to increased funding in this area, we remain concerned about the pace of change.

“The Public Accounts Committee will be re-examining NWIS in the Autumn and holding the Welsh Government to account on its progress in implementing the changes and improvements we recommended two years ago.”

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