Systems cock-up plagued new hospital in Melbourne

Cancer patients missed appointments

An Australian hospital is reportedly in chaos after a partnership with a cancer clinic resulted in the collapse of its booking system.

According to The Age, the opening of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, operated in conjunction with Austin Health, heralded the introduction of a new booking system in May 2013.

Rather than transfer records from the old system to the new, the hospital cancelled 49,000 appointments patients had made with specialists. The hospital wrote to patients advising and offered them new appointments.

Two things appear to have gone wrong at this point: first, the new system allegedly only generated the patient letters in English; and second, the new system failed to take holidays and leave into account, meaning that some patients turned up to unstaffed clinics.

The Age claims that scores of patients either didn't receive new appointments, or showed up at the wrong time.

However, Austin Health is adamant that while there were teething problems with the changeover between systems, patients weren't harmed. CEO Dr Brendan Murphy told the ABC that “We're very confident that there's been no clinical adverse events”.

Dr Murphy said the system is now subject to an external review, and the hospital is now planning to “make it work as we hoped”. ®

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