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Bosses apologise after faulty records cost the Royal Free £10million

PUBLISHED: 16:53 20 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:57 07 September 2010

Tan Parsons BOSSES at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead have apologised for faulty electronic records software which has cost the hospital £10million. The Cerner CRS system went live at the hospital in June 2008 and immediately caused chaos with system

Tan Parsons

BOSSES at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead have apologised for faulty electronic records software which has cost the hospital £10million.

The Cerner CRS system went live at the hospital in June 2008 and immediately caused chaos with system crashes, unbooked patient appointments and missing data.

Chief executive Andrew Way has now said: "The introduction of the CRS system at our hospital has caused much heartache and hard work and I would wish to pay tribute to our staff for all the difficulties they have faced during this time.

"It has been extremely difficult for them and has created a substantial additional workload. The introduction of the system has also caused a £10m problem for the trust. The trust is in discussion with other parts of the NHS to seek to resolve this financial issue."

In October 2008 the London Strategic Health Authority, which manages the NHS in London, put the brakes on plans to roll out the system across the capital until the problems at the Royal Free have been resolved.

Camden patients' spokesman Neil Woodnick said the blame for the problems should be laid firmly at Mr Way's door.

He said: "Andrew Way made the decision to go ahead and make the Royal Free the first hospital to implement the software. It's the biggest commissioning cock-up of the last century. I think they were completely overconfident that they could implement this huge system without any problems." While the Cerner system has not crashed in recent weeks there are still reports of problems with outpatients' appointments.

"You wonder how sensible it was to try and use an American software programme, but that is the government's fault," Mr Woodnick added. "This is what happens every time the government gets involved in developing computer systems. The money wasted over the years on these projects is an absolute fortune and it could have been spent on patients.

"I also question what impact this will have had on the hospital's bid to gain foundation status."

Around 327,000 patient records have been transferred onto the system, which is provided to the hospital by BT. It is being used to manage patient admissions and transfer and discharge details and is also linked to the accident and emergency department, theatre scheduling, maternity and therapies, as well as electronic radiology and pathology testing.

The Royal Free is now in discussions with other hospitals over the problems they have encountered with the Cerner system, although Mr Way has insisted there are some successes that should be recognised.

He said: "Technology, underpinning effective efficient healthcare is the only way forward for a modern progressive hospital like ours.

"It should be emphasised that we now have the basics of one of the world's most highly regarded IT systems established at the Royal Free."

tan.parsons@hamhigh.co.uk

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