Queen Mary Sidcup (QMS), the only London trust to have received a new hospital IT system under the NHS computerisation scheme, will now have to replace it less than a year after the system became fully operational.
QMS first switched on IDX’s Carecast system after a fraught implementation in November 2005, but it has taken until October 2006 for the system to become fully operational and integrated with Choose and Book.
But following the November 2005 implementation, BT, the local service provider for London, stopped work on further hospital PAS installs. For most of 2006 BT has been locked in negotiations with Cerner and GE Healthcare, which in January purchased IDX.
Last week BT finally announced that it had replaced GE Healthcare with Cerner and would now offer Cerner’s Millennium as its clinical software for the acute sector.
Kate Grimes, QMS chief executive, has exclusively confirmed to E-Health Insider that her trust will now replace IDX Carecast with Cerner Millennium in 2007.
Asked whether the trust had a development pathway for Carecast following the replacement of GE’s IDX system. "No, we don’t need one as we will be deploying Cerner next year."
A BT spokesperson told EHI: "Our joint plan is to deploy Cerner next year. Precise deployment timetables are being worked on right now."
Grimes added that she did not expect this to cause any technical problems: "We are switching to Cerner next year but in the meantime we do not anticipate any problems and the detail is being worked on between us, NHS CfH and BT."
The QMS chief executive said that the switch would entail additional costs but that these would be split between the trust, CfH and BT as LSP. "Any deployment will cost all parties – Queen Mary’s, BT and Connecting for Health – but brings with it benefits."
Asked about whether it would provide any additional financial support to QMS, BT said: "We never discuss in public the financial aspects of our relationship with individual trusts. Our job, however, is to demonstrate to QMS that the benefits of taking the new system will exceed the costs of change."
The planned switch will mean that the trust will have had to go through two full PAS implementations in less than two years. Last month Grimes told a health IT conference how disruptive the implementation of IDX has been for the trust, to the point of creating a severe financial risk to her trust.
One of the biggest problems for QMS was that following go live last November it took almost another year for Carecast to be become Choose and Book compliant. The system was only finally integrated last month. According to the trust Choose and Book only become fully operational on "Wednesday, 11 October 2006".
QMS says that it only learned that Carecast was not Choose and Book compliant last July.
Grimes told E-Health Insider: "Choose and Book is a very important tool and an inability to become compliant with the system would have been a risk for Queen Mary’s Sidcup. This is evidenced by the fact that in the intervening period we saw a drop in referrals as GPs could use direct Choose and Book to send patients to other local providers."
She added that CfH and BT had been very supportive in getting the system working: "We are more than happy with the support and help we’ve had from BT and Connecting for Health in testing this product for London, and feel that the lessons we’ve learned have been invaluable for the NHS across London."
Grimes concluded: "Since going live with direct Choose and Book we’ve been able to roll it out very quickly and successfully, and GPs are delighted."