Headlines: September 19th, 2006

BOROUGH BREAKS GROUND IN ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SHARING

 

Four organisations in the Borough of Tower Hamlets have become the first in London to make use of a new system for the electronic sharing of information between the health service and social services. They have adopted the new electronic Single Assessment Process tool – e-SAP – developed by NHS Connecting for Health.

It is the first electronic system that allows staff from both sides to share details about individuals, reducing duplication across different agencies and removing the risk of conflicting care. More than 200 colleagues from Tower Hamlets Social Services, Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust, Barts and the London NHS Trust, and East London and the City Mental Health Trust can now access up-to-date information on the people in their care.

The e-SAP system is a logical step forward for Tower Hamlets where staff have been operating a non-electronic Single Assessment Process, using paper and faxes, for a number of years. That means electronic sharing has not involved a big cultural change. The organisations say e-SAP is simply the technology that enables those involved to access the information they need more quickly. The e-SAP system is designed to be secure and staff have to log on using smartcards, which determine what information a particular user can see.

Polly Wicks, who is SAP Project Manager for Tower Hamlets Social Services, said responses from staff across the borough had been positive. They found the system easy to use. Polly added, “This is a big advance for us. Being able to share this information will help in all kinds of ways. For instance, the fact that all the services can be updated about the death of people in their care will reduce the number of letters being addressed to them and any upset to relatives.”