Thin client vendor compensates NHS trust

Plymouth Hospital Trust, an early adopter of thin client computing, has reached an amicable end to a long-running dispute over...

Plymouth Hospital Trust, an early adopter of thin client computing, has reached an amicable end to a long-running dispute over faulty kit and customer service with manufacturer Wyse Technology.

Officially, the NHS trust will not discuss the matter. However, a senior source within the IT department told CW360 that the trust's £2m Patient Information Management System (PIMS) project was severely delayed after Wyse thin client terminals suffered a number of configuration problems and hardware failures.

As part of a settlement, Wyse has replaced all the faulty thin client terminals - which are now out of warranty - with new models, and donated free management software for 400 users.

The thin client vendor is also providing free technical support while the Trust integrates the replacement units into its system.

Stephen Yeo, European marketing director for Wyse Technology, admitted: "We got it wrong, but we've spoken directly to the trust, fixed the outstanding issues and put systems in place so that this type of problem will never happen again."

The original complaint started in April 1999, when the trust implemented a thin client solution to make its systems Y2K-compliant. However, after spending in excess of £180,000 on new thin client terminals from Wyse Technology, the hospital ran into problems.

"All the Wyse thin clients were shipped with incorrect firmware, a significant number had faulty buttons and a few were just completely dead, though they were replaced almost immediately," a senior IT manager at the trust said.

"We complained to Wyse but were largely ignored. Wyse also refused to replace the machines or offer technical support because it claimed the warranty only applied from the date of manufacture and not from the day of purchase."

With Y2K pressing, the trust's IT team upgraded the firmware and made patchwork repairs themselves and continued implementing the PIMS and Y2K projects.

The rectification process cost hundreds of hours of staff time, which badly affected the PIMS system roll-out and other preparations for Y2K, according to trust sources.

Having settled its dispute, the trust is pressing ahead with a much larger thin client deployment. The PIMS system is now running on Windows 2000 servers and the trust plans to migrate more applications onto thin client technology

Read more on Business applications