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Electronic faults blamed for 'very negative impression' of NHS care

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A lack of correct information on how long it takes to get emergency patients into hospitals in Wales has been blamed on problems with electronic terminals, according to a spending watchdog.

The Wales Audit Office (WAO) said that the true extent of delays from ambulances taking patients to accident and emergency units is not known due to difficulties with the touch-screen system.

The reputation of the NHS is being damaged by such scenes, which give a ‘very negative impression’ of so-called unscheduled care in Wales, according to the report.

Technical problems led to a two-month delay with the terminals, but when they were being used by December, nearly four out of five patient handovers were not recorded on the machines.

The WAO found that one of the main problems in recording the information was ‘data terminals frequently malfunctioned and therefore could not be used’.

There was also uncertainty about who was responsible for recording information and resistance from staff with using the screens despite training, so when handovers were recorded it was often done inaccurately.

Elsewhere in the health service long handovers have been said to cause other problems, such as queues of ambulances outside hospitals and patients being left on trolleys in corridors.

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