Royal Free: delayed outpatient summary letters  

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In February this year, affected practices received a letter from Royal Free London (RFL) to inform them about a technical error which happened when RFL’s IT partner, Cerner, implemented a customised update on the system they use for distributing outpatient summary letters. The error meant that some letters, containing a summary of patient consultations at Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital, were not sent to GPs, patients and other health partners between 27 June 2019 and January 2020.  

The technical error was corrected and an action plan developed. This had two phases:  

  1. Phase one: letters dated between 1 December 2019 and 21 January 2020 were sent in February 2020 
  2. Phase two: letters from 27 June to 30 November 2019 would be sent following the completion of the clinical harm review. If the letter contained a request for active patient management (for example, a blood test or referral for a diagnostic test), these would be actioned before the letter was sent.  

Following Phase two reviews, to date, RFL has reported no individual case of moderate or severe harm has been identified. The reviews are continuing, but have been delayed in recent weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the delay, and as they have identified no moderate or severe harm so far, RFL will be sending all the phase two letters in batches to practices over the coming weeks. This will include a covering letter with detailed information on what action has been taken in each case.

Royal Free London would like to sincerely apologise that initially some batches were issued without the covering letter. For all those batches letters will now be resent with the appropriate explanatory covering letter.

If you have any queries in the meantime, please contact Chris Streather, RFL Group chief medical officer:

e: chris.streather@nhs.net

Expiry date: Aug 24th, 2020