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UK pharma supplier put into special measures after new IT system causes almost 10,000 missed medicine deliveries

'Some patients' conditions deteriorated and they had to be admitted to hospital'

UK pharmaceuticals supplier Healthcare at Home (HAH) missed 10,000 medicine deliveries from October to December 2020 following a change of IT systems, a mistake that left some patients needing hospital treatment.

Or says regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in a report published at the end of last week stating that HAH, which supports around 150,000 patients each year, had introduced new information systems in October 2020.

"These had not been thoroughly risk assessed and tested and resulted in avoidable harm to some patients," the report said. "This meant that delivery dates for medicines were missed and patients didn't get their essential medication required to treat their health condition or maintain their health, on time. Some patients' conditions deteriorated and they had to be admitted to hospital, whilst others experienced psychological trauma because of the uncertainty of not knowing when they would receive their essential medicines."

HAH has yet to respond to The Register's questions over what caused the incidents and which software was involved. HAH is a user of Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP and CRM system, but it is not known whether these relate to its patient information system.

Placing the the company in special measures, the CQC went on to say HAH had not acted in a timely manner to address the issues caused following the "installation" of the IT. The regulator said that by December 2020, the number of medicines missed or delayed had risen to 9,885.

"As a result of the issues with the introduction of the new information system there was not enough staff to manage the volume of work resulting in a backlog of unfulfilled medicines orders," the report said. "This included a lack of staff to take calls, pharmacists to make up prescriptions and drivers to deliver the orders to patients waiting for essential medicines."

The report said the company did not always manage safety incidents well and did not always fully investigate or learn lessons when things went wrong.

Staff who reported incidents did not always get feedback on what had happened as a result. The patient record system did not easily enable nursing staff to identify patients who may have a known allergy, information which had to be verbally checked with the patient, prior to administering medicines, the report said.

In a statement, Healthcare at Home CEO Darryn Gibson said: "We deeply regret the difficulties some patients faced as a result of a short-lived problem with our new computer system last October. In collaboration with the NHS, the issue was swiftly dealt with and within a short time, patient service had returned to normal.

"We remain as committed as ever to providing patients with a high-level quality of service and our new computer system is already delivering an even better service to patients. We look forward to a rapid reinspection to confirm our services are back to normal." ®

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