A military oral and maxillofacial surgeon assigned to Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio, Texas (Credit MOD)
News

Health In Military Could Be At Risk Due To IT 'Failings', Says Senior Doctor

The Ministry of Defence claimed IT issues have only been raised in 0.001% of medical consultations over the past two years.

A military oral and maxillofacial surgeon assigned to Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio, Texas (Credit MOD)

The Ministry of Defence claimed IT issues have only been raised in 0.001% of medical consultations over the past two years. (Image: MoD).

The health of Britain's armed forces could be at risk because of the "failings" of the IT system used at military surgeries, a senior doctor has warned.

Colonel Glynn Evans, chairman of the British Medical Association's (BMA) armed forces committee, told Forces News that computer issues are a daily complaint.

He told Forces News: "They tell us when they try to raise an IT issue during a medical consultation, it can take a very long time - up to 45 minutes.

"When our members contact the BMA to tell us of the IT issues, they happen, or so my members tell me, every day."

Colonel Evans says he does not recognise the Ministry of Defence's claim that IT issues have only been raised in 0.001% of medical consultations over the past two years as an accurate reflection of what is happening.

'When IT systems do let us down, patient confidentiality may be breached'

He went on to say that while he recognises the Ministry of Defence are working on a long-term solution, a temporary fix is needed:

"We need an IT system that is fit for purpose.

"We need to be able to deliver safe medical care to soldiers, sailors and airmen in the meantime.

"When the IT system does fail, there needs to be a mechanism that the doctors can follow in order to deliver that care.

"We would like MoD centrally and the Surgeon General's department to take responsibility for the failings of the IT system and the consequences of it."

The emergency casualty room in the medical centre at 40 Commando (Credit MOD)
Image: The emergency casualty room in the medical centre at 40 Commando (Credit: MOD)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) admitted problems with the computer system do occur but claimed IT issues have only been raised in 0.001% of medical consultations over the past two years.

A spokesman said: "Medical support for our personnel is a top priority. We are proud to have highly qualified professionals who would never prescribe drugs or deploy troops without doing the appropriate checks.

"IT issues have been raised in 0.001% of medical consultations over the past two years, and none of these incidents have ever caused any harm.

"As with all systems, problems can occur but are rare. We have a dedicated team ready to fix any issues swiftly and we instruct clinical staff not to undertake non-emergency appointments if healthcare records can't be accessed.

"The Surgeon-General takes any concerns raised by the BMA very seriously and is absolutely committed to rectifying any issues with the current system, whilst ensuring IT is continually upgraded so it is of the highest standard."

Lieutenant General Martin Bricknell, Surgeon General of the British military has released a full statement in response.

He says: "I welcome regular engagement with the BMA, and I am committed to our continued work together to improve and enhance the healthcare we provide to our servicemen and women.

"I look forward to the upcoming round-table meeting between the BMA and my medical IT experts to discuss the concerns reported by their members.

"The use of any medical IT system that poses even the smallest hazard to our people deserves our full attention."