Analysis of NHS England estates data given to the Times Health Commission shows that hospitals spent more than £234 million on the storage of paper medical records in the year to April 2022. This included about £175 million for on-site storage and more than £59 million for off-site storage.
The cost of remote storage units has increased by almost 20 per cent over the past five years. The NHS is paying for heating, lighting, staff, furniture and stationery, as well as renting space at these facilities.
The analysis by Lord Allan of Hallam, a Liberal Democrat peer and former Meta executive, follows the news that Newcastle Hospitals failed to send out 24,000 letters from senior doctors to patients and their GPs.
This year a patient who had been waiting nine months for a hospital appointment missed her slot because the letter informing her about it did not arrive in time.
Allan said that the storage costs highlighted the need for the health service to modernise its systems. “Electronic medical records, done properly, help everyone in the healthcare system. Clinicians have the data they need for care, managers can plan services more effectively and patients can access their information quickly and securely.
“There are still far too many systems that depend on paper records in the NHS and we all pay the price in terms of hundreds of millions of pounds of handling costs and a less efficient service.”
In 2015 the NHS promised to “end the unnecessary reliance on paper” and “consign to the dustbin of history the industry in referral letters, the outdated use of fax machines and the trolleys groaning with patients’ notes”.
Source: The Times
Date: 12 October