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Report blames human and legacy system failure for Yorkshire hospital problems

Old technology and human error combined to cause major IT outage at Yorkshire NHS trust, review finds

The failure of a legacy IT system combined with human error to cause the laboratory management system at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to fail last September, according to an official review.

The review report, just made public, said the hospital’s Telepath laboratory information management system (LIMS) failed in September, forcing the hospital to send samples to other organisations for analysis.

The Computer Sciences Corporation system, which has been in use since the 1980s, was supported on site by subcontractor Specialist Computer Centres. Its failure on 16 September 2016 caused hundreds of operations and appointments to be postponed, and GPs were asked not to send in routine blood tests.

The review report said the failure was caused by a combination of hardware/technical failure and human error.

The trust contacted other hospital laboratory services so that samples could be sent to them for analysis. At one point, there was a backlog of 10,000 tests.

The age of the LIMS was a major factor in its failure, the report said. “While the Telepath system still provides a valuable service, continues to have a reasonably large UK user base and is well known to pathology IT professionals, it is old, difficult to maintain and probably in need of replacement,” it said.

Human error also played a part, the report said. Changes to system administrative and managerial responsibilities resulted in insufficient oversight of system performance, and IT support teams failed to recognise a number of warning signs that contributed to the incident.

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