NHS failure to meet Y2K 'could have serious consequences for patients'

NHS failure to meet Y2K ‘could have serious consequences for patients’
Richard Wilson Non-Year 2000 compliant microcontrollers embedded in NHS equipment threaten widespread disruption in hospitals and surgeries with potentially fatal consequences for patients, the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned. Some 15 per cent of Trusts admitted to the NAO that they could not be confident of ensuring that their clinical equipment would continue to function normally in the Year 2000 despite predicted spending on the Year 2000 for the NHS as a whole of ?230m. Embedded micros are the key threat, says the report. David Davis, chairman of the House of Commons Public Accounts committee, to which the NAO reports, underlined the warning: “Much of the equipment used in diagnosis and treatment, for example, intravenous infusion pumps used commonly in the NHS, contain embedded microprocessors. Failure of such vital pieces of equipment could have even more serious consequences for individuals than failure of major computer systems.” Many of the more sophisticated laboratory, X-ray and other diagnostic and treatment services rely on electronic equipment with embedded computer chips. “Failure of these systems could have serious consequences for patients,” said the NAO. The NAO’s report concludes that “some parts of the NHS remain at risk of failing to achieve Year 2000 compliance”.

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