Hospital trust apologises and blames IT error for losing 24,000 doctors' letters

26 September 2023, 11:58

Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle
Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

A hospital trust has blamed an IT error for failing to send out more than 20,000 letters from senior doctors to patients and their GPs - with fears it could have an impact on ongoing care and treatment.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Newcastle Hospitals has apologised "for any anxiety or inconvenience this may cause" as it confirmed documents including discharge summaries and clinic letters may not have been sent out over the last five years.

The Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle
The Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Newcastle fan 'stabbed' in Milan after being 'ambushed by hooded thugs' ahead of Champions League clash

Read More: Gazza reveals Calpol addiction as he breaks down in tears and admits he was 'banned from every chemists in Newcastle'

There are fears the blunder could have an impact on ongoing care and treatment.

Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is being investigated by the Care Quality Commission. A routine inspection found that since 2018 thousands of letters from doctors that needed a sign off from a senior member of staff were left unsent in a folder that no-one knew existed.

Reports say the error happened when letters requiring sign-off from a senior doctor were "placed into a folder few staff knew existed."

Many of the unsent letters were from specialist clinics detailing care that needed for patients - meaning tests and results may have been missed by patients.

The trust, which runs the two main hospitals in Newcastle, said it is currently reviewing 24,000 documents but stressed this accounted for less than 0.3% of all patient contacts.

Martin Wilson, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “We have thoroughly investigated these matters and would like to reassure our patients that we are taking immediate steps to address the issue. We sincerely apologise for any anxiety or inconvenience this may cause.

“Every single patient contact is very important to us and we are working to understand if there has been any impact to ongoing care and treatment. We are currently reviewing 24,000 documents from our electronic records. This includes both correspondence and internal documents and accounts for less than 0.3 per cent of all our patient contacts.

“This review is already underway and will be completed as quickly as possible over the next two months. If any concerns are identified, we will inform patients and their GPs directly. We are taking this issue very seriously and are working quickly to put things right.”

Sarah Dronsfield, the CQC’s interim director of operations in the north, said: “We took immediate action to request further detail from the trust to understand the extent to which people may be at risk, and evidence of the steps being taken to review the impact on patients, ensure people are safe and mitigate any risk of avoidable delays in treatment going forward."

She said the trust had submitted an action plan and would update the CQC.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Milei has backed his country's claim to the Falklands

Britain 'stands firmly' with Falkland Islands as minister pays visit in fresh warning to Argentina's eccentric president

Opec sign

Saudi Arabia extends cut in oil it sends to world in bid to boost prices

Matt Hancock gave evidence on Thursday.

Matt Hancock insists he is 'no liar' as he blames 'toxic culture' in No10 for Covid failings

Palestinians line up for food in Rafah, Gaza Strip

Tough talks ahead as Gaza ceasefire holds with more hostages freed

Caolan Gormley was convicted of an offence linked to the deaths of the 39 Vietnamese migrants

Last people smuggler in operation linked to deaths of 39 migrants in Essex lorry jailed for seven years

Mia Schem was released today, with her mother Keren filmed reacting in joy

Baying mob screams at two female hostages released by Hamas, as young captive's mother sobs in joy

Jamie Lynn Spears exited the I'm A Celebrity jungle on medical grounds

Jamie Lynn Spears speaks out after I'm A Celebrity exit after departing jungle on 'medical grounds'

Donald Trump

Gag order barring Trump from maligning court staff in fraud trial reinstated

The caller is heard saying, “I don't think there's anything you can do for her, I really don't think there is."

'Blood on her legs and back': Desperate 999 call made by dog walker who found Brianna Ghey’s body after stabbing

Rescuers work at the scene of a building damaged by shelling in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, on Thursday

Russian missile strikes in Ukraine bury families in rubble

Palestinians ride bicycles by destroyed buildings in Gaza City on Wednesday

Truce in Gaza extended but talks over remaining Hamas hostages could get tougher

The Prince and Princess of Wales were all smiles as they welcomed the Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden at Windsor Castle today

Kate and William are all smiles as they welcome Swedish Royals amid ongoing Omid Scobie race row

Andrew Marr has paid tribute to Alistair Darling after he died aged 70

'We were lucky to have him': Andrew Marr's tribute to Alistair Darling after former Chancellor dies aged 70

The cruise, due to depart Istanbul on 30 November, was cancelled because the company failed to buy a ship

Three-year cruise cancelled as company admits it did not buy ship after customers sold homes for £300k tickets

A Met Police officer tasered a 10-year-old girl

Moment police officer tasers 10-year-old girl carrying garden shears, as PC is cleared of gross misconduct

Facebook's Meta sign at the company's headquarters

Fake Facebook accounts shut down by Meta were ‘primed to polarise voters’