The NHS trust in charge of Watford General has signed a £25.5 million contract to update its IT systems.

The announcement comes in the wake of an independent investigation which found the trust's outdated communications systems - including the commonplace use of fax - contributed to the failings with urgent cancer referral patients.

The trust, which has refused to comment on whether anyone has been disciplined for the mishandled referrals, has blamed its old IT and referral processes for the blunder.

The new investment is set to speed up the time taken to see and treat patients across its three sites will be spent over the next five years.

Staff will have the latest technology, including mobile devices such as tablets.

And the trust will also put in place more reliable IT support services including a new 24/7 helpdesk for nurses, doctors and other staff who have IT problems.

Additionally it will bring faster networks, improved telephone systems and increased IT security to support staff caring for patients and to help them share information quickly and securely.

Samantha Jones, chief executive, said: "This is undoubtedly the single biggest investment in IT across Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans hospitals for more than a generation.

"Our current IT systems are very old and are becoming more and more difficult for staff to use. They can be slow and it’s hard for us to connect them to the latest software.

"The new investment will help revolutionise the way that we work. The benefits for our patients, as well as staff, are immense and will truly help us to improve the care we provide to our patients.  

"We will also be providing Wi-Fi across all three of our hospitals."

The investment will help the trust to make savings by being more efficient and speeding up the time it takes to do things.  

Mrs Jones added: "Our staff can expect to spend less time completing paperwork and have access to information at the touch of a button. Staff will also have their IT problems solved much quicker, freeing them up to carry on with their work."

The contract has been signed with CGI.

Calum MacLeod, vice president of healthcare at CGI in the UK, said: "CGI is very excited to bring our experience of providing services that help modernise the delivery of healthcare in the UK and abroad to Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals. We look forward to working with the Trust to support its vision of providing consistently good care to its patients."

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