New health records storage facility officially opened

August 1, 2016

The newly refurbished and expanded health records storage facility for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has been officially opened by Non-Executive Director Barry Nealon.

The building in Hailsham has undergone extensive refurbishment, including the installation of a mezzanine floor, and will now become the main health records storage facility for the Trust, housing more than 500,000 health records.

Work has already begun to move all active health records from Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH to Hailsham, and is scheduled to be completed in the autumn.

Each patient’s health record will be delivered to the hospital where they are required before the patient’s appointment or admission so that staff can prepare the notes, after which they will be returned to the main store.

The condition, storage and availability of health records has been an issue for the Trust for a number of years.  As the number of health records needing to be stored increased, the storage areas at Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH became cramped and created a health and safety risk for staff.  The lack of space meant notes were left on the floor where they were easily damaged and finding notes was difficult, so they were not always available for appointments.

The need to make improvements was first recognised by the Trust in 2014 and the Care Quality Commission identified this as an area of significant concern at its inspection in 2015.

The move to Hailsham is one part of the overall project to improve the condition, storage and availability of health records within the Trust.  Electronically tagging health records was introduced last year and now means that a record can be tracked by sensors at our sites, allowing the location of a file to be traced at any time.  The Trust will also start to implement Electronic Document Management (EDM) in the autumn, reducing the need for paper files.

Liz Fellows, Associate Director, Operations, said: “The Trust has invested in both resources and staff to improve the health records services.  Having explored a number of options for improving the service, centralisation was the most effective and has been implemented successfully in many other NHS Trusts. This facility has provided a much better working environment, which together with Electronic Document Management, will provide a sustainable arrangement for the service and organisation.

“The improvements we are making to the service would not have been possible without the support and hard work of staff, and I would like to thank them all for their efforts.”

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