NHS trust seeks compensation over patient records system delay

An NHS hospital trust in south west England is seeking compensation for the late delivery of NHS Connecting for Health patient administration systems.

An NHS hospital trust in south west England is seeking compensation for the late delivery of NHS Connecting for Health patient administration systems.

United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust is due to receive the electronic care records service system from Connecting for Health, the government agency running the £6.2bn national programme for IT in the NHS, to replace ageing EDS-supplied systems.

Delivery of the Connecting for Health system to hospitals in the region had already been delayed by more than a year before local service provider Fujitsu replaced software supplier IDX with Cerner.

A spokeswoman for the trust said it was asking for money from Connecting for Health or its local service provider to pay for the additional support cost from EDS caused by delays.

"The current contract with EDS expires in December 2006. United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust is currently working with the strategic health authority in an effort to seek funding from Connecting for Health to fund part or all of any additional EDS costs incurred during 2007. The go live date [for the new system] is September/October 2007," she said.

A go-live date of August 2007 was predicted in a business case presented to the trust's board in December. However, board papers revealed concerns over further delay. They said the go-live date "may well slip" and rated the probability of this occurrence as "five" - the highest on its scale.

The papers added that there was "no proof" of the ability of Fujitsu to deliver, therefore the probability of delay was "high".

The trust anticipates a severe increase in support costs should the new system be delayed beyond December 2007. "The actual cost is unknown, but could be in the order of three to four times the current costs, which are £242,000 per annum," the trust papers said.

This could mean the trust pays £968,000 a year for the support of existing applications. The trust said EDS was prepared to extend the current contract.

Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Strategic Health Authority, which has responsibility for the Bristol trust, was confident the trust would not pick up the bill for the delays. "We cannot comment on commercial discussions but we are confident that United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust will not be adversely affected financially by an August/September 2007 go-live date," a spokeswoman said.

Connecting for Health said it was the trust's decision to put back the roll-out from August to October 2007, but refused to comment on whether Connecting for Health or its contractors would meet the additional support costs caused by the existing delay in delivery.


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