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In 2012, the Offices of the County Governors carried out supervision of the way the specialized health services deal with referral and investigation of patients with cancer of the colon and rectum. Supervision was carried out by regional teams as system audits.

For patients with suspected cancer or other serious illnesses, deficiencies in health care can have catastrophic consequences. Reliable and effective patient administration systems are needed for dealing with referrals, and for providing adequate and sound investigation and treatment. The systems must function well, and should be understood. The systems must provide a necessary overview, and ensure that patients who need special treatment are detected and receive adequate care.

Deficiencies were detected, both in relation to the way in which the specialized health services dealt with referrals from general practitioners, referrals from one hospital department to another, and referrals from one health trust to another.

In our view, management and control of basic patient administration systems for providing patient care are not always adequate. There is reason to question whether patient data and data on capacity are used effectively for managing services and allocating resources.