The chief executive of Worthing and Southlands NHS Trust has said in a letter to staff that the Cerner Millennium system installed six months ago by Fujitsu continues “to be a challenge across the trust”. 

In a letter posted on the trust’s intranet, Stephen Cass, told staff: “All staff – whether you use the system or not – will be aware that the new care records system – or Cerner – is continuing to be a challenge across the trust.”

Cass added he was aware of the difficulties staff faced in using the system: “I know the ongoing issues are causing difficulties and adding to your workload.”

The trust’s Millennium R0 was installed by Fujitsu in September 2007. At the time in the months since the go-live has consistently been described as the best implementation yet of Cerner Millennium under the NHS IT programme.

In his letter, Cass says that the trust has invested in extra functionality and training resources, to help staff get used to the system.

“As an organisation, we have put in additional resources to improve the system’s functionality. The trust is also making additional resources available for training and support,” he wrote.

He stressed that as Millennium is the chosen software for the whole of the Southern NHS the trust had no alternative but make it work: “There is no going back for us – and we are committed to making it [Millennium] work.”

In February the trust came under scrutiny from Channel 4 News when Dr Patrick Carr said it had been abandoned in the hospital’s A&E department: “Every process we used to do by hand seemed to take longer using the Cerner solution.”

Problems with Millennium are also acknowledged in a letter written by Candy Morris, chief executive of the South East Coast SHA, sent to local MP, Peter Bottomley who had raised questions about problems with Millennium.

Morris told the MP that the functionality ‘deficiencies’ have resulted in Connecting for Health (CfH) asking Fujitsu to explain why implementation dates continue to slip for trusts in the South.

“Following the deployment project, whatever the ultimate gains, further deficiencies in functionality have emerged. We are very mindful of these.

“You may be aware that NHS Connecting for Health with the support of the three SHA chief executives in the South of England has escalated the issue with Fujitsu in relation to their failure to deliver key implementation milestones in their work for the Southern Programme for IT. Negotiations continue, and there are no rose-tinted glasses. We await Fujitsu’s remediation plan,” she told the MP.

EHI contacted staff working at trusts live in the South live with the Millennium R0 solution and found a number were still experiencing difficulties with the software.

One anonymous member of the Somerset Health Informatics Service, responsible for Taunton NHS Trust, told EHI: “It’s not been as easy an implementation as we hoped it would be. Staff have found the Cerner system difficult and tedious, and there have been a series of complaints arising from the deployment. We have had to bring in outsourced floor walkers to deal with the disruption, and help clinicians get used to the Cerner solution.

They added: “We have had a team of people working on this for over two years, testing and retesting the system to make sure that it does what we need it to, and to some extent it is making a difference, but it doesn’t surprise me that Worthing are still experiencing functionality deficiencies.”

A senior nursing staff member at Surrey and Sussex meanwhile told EHI: “Worthing followed our lead in deploying Millennium after the solution was signed off three months after deployment and given a great review in E-Health Insider when they did so. In reality, we have had difficulties and the system isn’t the great clinical management asset we needed. It still has some real problems in generating information which nurses need – especially when it comes to printing. The SHA are well aware of our problems and hopefully Mr Bottomley will look to take action on this.”

In her letter, dated 26 February, Morris told Bottomley the Southern Programme for IT’s contract reset with local service provider Fujitsu was still under negotiation.

According to health minister, Ben Bradshaw, the next Southern Programme of IT site to get the system will be Bath Royal United Hospital NHS Trust in May, though the trust were unable to confirm this to EHI.

In a statement to EHI Fujitsu said: “Worthing and Southlands NHS Trusts was agreed as a R0 implementation site for the new NHS Care Records System following criteria from NHS CFH and in full consultation with the Trust.

“Worthing’s A&E department is utilising the First Net functionality of Cerner Millennium, however they are limiting the usage of the clinical functionality available to them within the software. This was a decision made by the trust prior to the site going live.”

The spokesperson added: “Fujitsu Services has worked closely together with the trust at Worthing to deploy a successful NHS Care Records System.”

Cerner and CfH had not responded to questions by the time of publication.


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