Update: Sussex hospital scraps £2m patient system, while Kingston seeks £500k pay out

A Sussex hospital has scrapped a Cerner Millennium patient records system that cost £2 million to implement, while a London hospital seeks £500,000 after roll out delays.

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A Sussex hospital has scrapped a Cerner Millennium patient records system that cost £2 million to implement, while a London hospital seeks £500,000 after roll out delays.

Worthing and Southlands Hospitals NHS Trust is abandoning the Cerner Millennium programme, a patient administration system being rolled out across South East and London hospitals as part of the £12.7 billion National Programme for IT (NPfIT) to modernise NHS IT systems.

The Trust said it had scrapped the system in favour of a system it used previously, called Helix. The decision to migrate to the rival application was due to its planned merger with the Royal West Sussex NHS Trust, which also currently uses Helix.

The Argus reported that Worthing has had a number of problems with Cerner since it was installed in September 2007. Employees complained it was difficult to manage and wasn't properly recording all the work being done, including accident and emergency procedures.

Staff were also reportedly having problems locating or tracking patient notes through the system, and could not print and annotate patient lists or labels for specimens being sent for tests.

In its annual report, Worthing and Southlands Trust said the Cerner implementation "proved to be a very demanding challenge requiring the allocation of significant staff resources to ensure the system is effective and providing the correct level of information and is not adversely impacting on the level of service provided to our patients".

A spokesperson for Worthing and Southlands trust said: "It is more sensible to transfer Worthing and Southlands to a familiar system still being used at the Royal West Sussex than to move them to an entirely new platform on a temporary basis."

"Continuing with separate systems until the proposed deployment of the new National Programme [for IT] system was not considered a viable option as the timetable for this has not yet been finalised. Running parallel systems would also be more time consuming and less efficient than switching to a common one, which would offer a better service to patients and enable the new organisation to monitor its performance more accurately."

Meanwhile, Kingston Hospital, the next London hospital in line to install the Cerner system, has had its start date postponed for a second time, after problems at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, one of the first to install the system.

Kingston Hospital was to begin using the system last October, but the start date had been put back until this April. However, it emerged today that the April date has also been postponed indefinitely until issues in live Trusts were fully resolved.

Kingston Hospital confirmed that it has spent £500,000 before the system is even installed as it prepareson for implementation by training its staff to use the new system and it also pays for "backfill", which means getting staff to update the existing care records systems even if it is outside their normal job role. The hospital said it "would be submitting these details with a view to reclaiming the lost expenditure".

In its December board minutes, Kingston said: "Continuing upgrades to PAS were not sustainable in the longer term, and it was also highlighted that the postponement had a consequential knock on effect of slowing down implementation of other key Trust IT projects."

Earlier this week the chief executive of Royal Free, Andrew Way, publicly slammed the system for, saying it had caused "heartache and hard work" at his hospital.

The Royal Free has lost £10million as a result of installing the computer system.

NHS London said NHS London Programme for IT is working with each trust to "help minimise any adverse effects of the delays to the implementation of the Cerner Millennium electronic patient records system within London.

"There are no trusts in London currently seeking compensation for any losses they have experienced as a result of this."

Following a review in October by the London Acute Programme Board, the NHS London Programme for IT (LPfIT) has been working with BT and Cerner to "resolve outstanding issues" at the four acute trusts – Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm, Queen Mary’s Sidcup, Barts and the London - currently live with Cerner Millennium.

NHS said: "Several upgrades have been made to the Cerner Millennium London Configuration 1 (LC1) software currently being used by the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust to streamline and enhance the system for users." Improvements are also being made at the trusts using the LC0 version of Cerner Millennium.

BT said the trusts and LPfIT were deciding the dates for rollout. But it confirmed it had been given the authorisation to resume London deployment after resolving the serious issues, and was awaiting new dates from the trusts.

A spokesperson said: "Following the good progress BT and LPfIT have made implementing an improvement programme, the London Programme Board has recommended BT resumes the rollout to other trusts."

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