Why is data quality poor in the NHS?

The main problem is human error – that is the polite term for staff not checking the information that they are entering on systems about patients.

Name and Date of Birth might be checked but a lot of the time there is a “computer says yes” approach if something immediately is matched but they do not check the actual address.

That means we are seeing patients being deregistered from GP’s or appointment letters going to wrong addresses, sometime hundreds of miles away from where they should be treated.

Processes around putting things right are fragmented and often based on sheer perseverance around knowing how the NHS might work.

The three second rule is still as valid today as it was twenty years ago – if you have a common surname in front of you, double and triple check that the other information is right and reasonable – if you have a patient in Birmingham, is an address in Great Yarmouth right?

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