Gajus - Fotolia

London hospital trust delays IT project completion as issues frustrate staff

London hospital delays major IT project completion due to 'teething and birthing issues'

Central and North West London (CNWL) NHS Foundation Trust is experiencing problems with its IT systems and has delayed the completion of a major IT upgrade as a result.

In 2013 the trust signed a deal with CGI, to deliver new IT infrastructure services over five years, which came into operation in April 2014. The project was expected to be complete by the end of last month (May 2015) but user issues remain. 

A CNWL spokesman said the project completion has been delayed due to “teething and birthing” problems related to the interaction of multiple systems across different areas of the trust. “While this is not a major IT problem it causes great difficulties for our staff,” he added.

The CNWL spokesman told Computer Weekly the problems are with the current, inherited infrastructure. “That's why we contracted with CGI to make improvements. CNWL completely understands staff frustration over IT systems and how it affects the care they provide in numerous ways.”

The spokesman added that, due to time constraints, the hospital has to implement systems before every issue is settled. “In times of change  - and we're replacing clinical information systems too - that frustration is compounded as delivery begins without settling all issues, which unfortunately takes time.”

The trust, one of the UK’s biggest, is integrating multiple operations to use a single IT infrastructure as part of a major IT transformation being done alongside CGI. The CNWL spokesman said: “As we won bids to run services we had to bring legacy IT infrastructure up to what it should be - it's a very practical part of building a single organisation out of many services. We understand and accept the challenge but it is a challenge."

Read more about NHS IT

IT problems and poor information governance placed patient care at risk at a London NHS trust, an employment tribunal heard

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is enabling its member organisations to share IT following a managed services deal with Computacenter

The spokesman added that much has been achieved but not in every area and not always as originally envisaged: “The programme has and will be subject to revision in terms of where services and buildings will be placed in the upgrade plan though staff will not necessarily be aware of these changes as they are still in the process of being agreed."

Robert Morgan, director at sourcing consultancy Burnt-Oak Partners, said if the project was set to be completed at the end of May, all problems should be resolved. “For there to be problems now means there could have been a lack of preparation. Projects like this usually build secondary environments to do the testing,” he said.

Many NHS trusts across the country are undertaking large-scale IT projects, driven by organisational changes to the health service, pressure to create a "paperless NHS" by 2018, as well as replacing systems first installed as part of the controversial NHS National Programme for IT.  

Read more on Healthcare and NHS IT