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All PACS-out

All hospitals in England will receive new picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) by 2008, the Department of Health has announced.

The announcement, on 21 May, kicked off a week-long promotion campaign for technology in the NHS in which health ministers will be showcasing and promoting the benefits of using “cutting-edge technology” in trusts to improve patient safety. Health secretary Patricia Hewitt started the week by visiting the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London, to see the digital X-ray system in action (it has been in use since 2005).

The original target date for completion of the PACS roll-out was 2007. Though this has slipped a little, PACS is still seen as one of the major successes of the National Programme for IT.

Hewitt said: “The NHS leads the way in using digital X-rays, which are not yet being used by all leading healthcare providers. This new system is helping doctors do what they do best – treat patients faster and better – and will provide NHS users with a first-class 21st century service.” Hewitt added: “The digital image will follow the patient wherever they go and will be able to be recalled whenever and wherever they need to be accessed by a patient’s healthcare professional.