NHS IT failures 'left babies unvaccinated'

New allegations of NHS IT failure have emerged, but Connecting for Health has rejected them as 'scaremongering'

The NHS has defended Connecting for Health, its multi-billion pound IT upgrade, amid reports of problems that left thousands of babies at risk of infection.

Over the weekend, two national newspapers claimed that a system introduced last year to handle the health records of young children had gone badly wrong, derailing the UK's vaccination programme.

The Observer reported that as many as 3,000 children had not received important vaccinations after the NHS switched over to the Child Health Interim Applications (CHIA) system, which is run by BT. This system was supposed to automatically issue an alert when a child was due for a jab, but health staff have reportedly been forced to resort to paper records after many alerts weren't issued.

The Sunday Times also reported that CHIA has suffered problems, quoting one London-based paediatrician who warned that a child could "die or be damaged by a vaccine-preventable disease because we can't contact them".

In response, the NHS claimed that the reports were "inaccurate and scaremongering" and blamed a "process error" for any missed vaccinations.

In a statement, Connecting for Health said that it had been forced to ask BT to install the CHIA at 10 London Primary Care Trusts because previous systems had reached the end of their useful life.

"From the outset it was recognised that this system alone would not provide all the necessary reports about children's immunisation status," said Connecting for Health, adding that manual processes were added.

"It is possible that in some locations over the past 10 months the manual processes have not been correctly completed. And it could mean that some parents have not been correctly advised of their children's immunisation needs. That is most regrettable however, it is not a fault of the computer system, it was a process error," Connecting for Health added.