The story of the Addenbrooke’s Computer Unit starts in the mid 1960’s when the Hospital Board and the University’s Faculty Board of Medicine set up a joint working party to consider the role of computers in the future development of Addenbrooke’s. They reported that there was a definite place for computers in the hospital and that plans should be made to include a computer complex in Stage II.
On 18 Mar 1974 the new £500,000 computer unit which was to provide ‘several aspects of patient administration for the Cambridge Health District particularly in handling patient administrative records and follow-up procedures’ was officially opened by Lord Todd.
This is a piece from the Addenbrooke News (Jun 1974) explaining to staff how important the computer was to the hospital:
‘In 1969 a Computer Study Team was formed later called the Computer Unit. The hospital service needed to collect many sets of statistics describing the performance of the hospital over the years so that performance can be monitored and hence improved. Examples of such statistics are bed occupancy, the average length of stay, number on waiting lists, and average length stay on waiting list.
Other departments in the hospital use the computer for record –keeping and analysis; access to the computer’s vast calculation potential; and for follow-up systems applying to patients treated for particular complaints with high probability of further treatment at a later date being needed.
Complete confidentially is maintained by a series of keys and passwords. Contrary to popular belief, computer systems are potentially much more secure than manual systems.
The Computer Unit is equipped with a Xerox Data Systems Sigma 6 computer which in lay terms can handle 80,000 ’words’ at a time and remember 147milion ‘words’ and can perform 769.230 sums a second’!