Hospital blames IT for fall in status

Executives at a hospital that pioneered systems under the £12.4bn National Programme for IT in the NHS have blamed their new technology for contributing to the trust's loss of status as top performing health service site.

Executives at a hospital that pioneered systems under the £12.4bn National Programme for IT in the NHS have blamed their new technology for contributing to the trust's loss of status as top performing health service site.

The Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford was last year awarded the maximum three-star rating for its performance. Under a new method of rating hospitals, Nuffield was categorised by the Healthcare Commission as "weak" for quality of service. This is the bottom category of performance.

The ratings matter because hospitals can lose business - and income - if their ratings remain poor and patients are referred elsewhere.

On a target for seeing patients with suspected cancer, Nuffield incurred a "fail" because it was unable to submit the necessary data during the implementation of its new systems.

It also failed to meet national targets on the number of patients waiting more than six months and on the number of cancelled operations.

Jan Fowler, acting chief executive at Nuffield, said she was disappointed at the "weak" rating.

"We believe we are providing a good quality service to our patients at this hospital but the results have been distorted by the computer problems we had earlier this year following the installation of our new patient administration computer system, which unfortunately caused some patients to experience delays to their treatment," she said.

"The hospital is now running on the new computer system, but in the first few months of implementation we did experience significant teething problems.

"We were the first hospital in the southern region to take on this new software and, even though we took what we thought were robust contingency measures in case there were problems, the difficulties took longer to resolve than anyone could have anticipated."

The installation by Fujitsu and Cerna of the Care Records Service at Nuffield led to some operations being cancelled and a failure to produce accurate, or in some cases any, information on patient appointments.

A spokeswoman for Nuffield said the software was performing better now, but she declined to answer Computer Weekly's questions on what shortcomings still exist.

More information

www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk

www.noc.nhs.uk




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