Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust have delayed deploying Cerner Millennium software due to ‘severe security problems’, the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting heard.  The software had been due to go live the weekend beginning 29 June.

Calling for a public inquiry into the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), David Wrede, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, told the meeting last week: “We have had greater then a dozen go-live dates. I’ve just been told that 30 June has again been cancelled because there remain three to six absolutely outstanding and severe security problems with the software.”

He explained the problems were which were causing Taunton to delay deployment of the patient administration system: “Namely, if I put my name in to get my patient data you get all the health information of my entire family. There are 50 P2 problems. The maternity programme they originally showed us collected 10% of the data that was required from the old theme driven computer system and we now have to buy an entirely new maternity system to get the Millennium module to work.”

In a statement, the trust confirmed that the go-live had been postponed, but refused to elaborate on the reasons for this. “Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust has postponed go live of Cerner Millennium, the foundation release of the NHS Care Records Service planned for 30 June, in order to allow time for remaining final issues to be resolved.

“The trust believes it is in a good position in terms of local readiness and preparation and is working closely with Fujitsu to work through the issues. It will set a new date when it can ensure as smooth a transition as possible for patients and staff.”

Both Cerner and the local service provider for the South, Fujitsu, acknowledged the hold-up in implementation from 30 June and said they will continue to work with the trust to agree a new go-live date.

Wrede, a member of the BMA’s Central Consultant and Specialist Committee (CCSC), added that pressure was being applied to the trust to take the NPfIT solution and not purchase another, by its strategic health authority.

He claimed: “The contracting of Cerner is nothing short of a national scandal, even if you buy a basic IT package from someone like Microsoft when you upgrade it you pay a small proportion of the original fee to upgrade it, every single upgrade of Cerner costs the same and trusts are not being allowed to exclude themselves from R0 which is unbelievably dysfunctional.”

A Cerner spokesperson told EHI: “There are a few things that we feel are important to note about the Taunton and Somerset R0 implementation – the first being that only a handful of issues have caused this delay. In order to ensure a complete R0 transition in the near future, we are working closely with the trust and CfH to make sure all stakeholders are ready for the go-live launch.

“Secondly, it is important to clear up any confusion on the cost of the software system. R0 and related upgrades are free to all trusts as part of the NPfIT. We look forward to continuing to provide support to the trust, as any new IT implementation requires flexibility and dedication from all parties involved in order to achieve successful service delivery.”

A Fujtsu spokesperson added: “Fujitsu is looking into the issues raised and will work closely with the trust, Cerner and CfH to address any concerns.”

Wrede told the audience: “We should have a public inquiry. The people who made the original Cerner contract should be brought to book and as Cerner Millennium R0 is not fit for purpose under any kind of consumer legislation we should throw it back in the face of the suppliers and tell them if they want the money, they can take us to court.”

The motion was carried by the meeting, despite claims that an inquiry was unnecessary from other members (see BMA votes for non co-operation on central records)

An NHS Connecting for Health spokesperson said: “The NAO conducted an independent review of the programme in 2006 (and it will be considered again shortly). Its report was agreed with the Department of Health and is an accurate record of the progress which had been made to June 2006. Significant further progress has been made since that date.

"Former health minister, Lord Warner, stated that a further review would neither be constructive nor helpful. The open public meeting which was chaired by David Nicholson [the NHS chief executive] on 26 January 2007, to which a wide range of members of the media and others were invited, provided the opportunity for a further case to be made for a review. No evidence was presented at this meeting. David Nicholson concluded to all present at the time that ‘he had not heard any evidence to suggest a review was required’."


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