Dates for the implementation of new Lorenzo clinical software in parts of two NHS trusts are continuing to slip, despite assurances made by health minister Ben Bradshaw two weeks ago that the software would be installed by June.
The delays are the latest in a long line stretching back to the original planned delivery date at the end of 2004.
Delivery dates for two, and possibly all three, of the Lorenzo pilot sites – Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and South Birmingham PCT – have slipped to July with the possibility of further delays to come.
E-Health Insider has been told by Bradford it will now not implement before July. South Birmingham PCT also says July, while Morecambe Bay says ‘June or July’.
The software under development by iSoft is to be delivered to NHS trusts in the North, East and Midlands by Local Service Provider Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) under the NHS IT programme.
EHI has learned this week the first implementations of Lorenzo will also be limited in scope. Bradford will test order communications and reporting in one surgical department, while Birmingham will pilot community functionality. No dates have yet been agreed for achieving trust-wide roll-outs of Lorenzo.
Just two weeks ago, on 22 February, health minister Ben Bradshaw promised June delivery of Lorenzo to three initial sites during the Commons debate, on the Health Select Committee’s report into the development of electronic health records: “The first implementation of release 1 is due in June this year in Morecambe Bay, South Birmingham and Bradford.”
But sources close to the project, including one senior ex-iSoft employee, say that the full initial Lorenzo software, now termed Lorenzo Regional Care, meant to be delivered in four phases from 2008 to 2012, has yet to be developed and completed to a stage ready for deployment into the NHS.
The potential for further delays, however, is suggested by reports that Lorenzo software is not yet being made available for testing at the initial sites and deployment materials are not yet available. Lorenzo version one is understood to provide order communications and test results functionality but will not include patient administration.
A spokesperson for iSoft told EHI that iSoft was a sub-contractor to CSC, which was responsible for determining whether the software was ready for use in the NHS.
A CSC spokesperson yesterday told EHI the company remained confident the Lorenzo software would be ready to be installed by June: “We are confident of meeting the June delivery date stated in Parliament by the minister. As far as we are concerned, the software is ready for deployment and we are working very closely with our strategic partners at the early adopter sites and Connecting for Health to ensure a smooth transition for these trusts.”
The CSC spokesperson added: “All of our early adopters have had demonstrations of the system, and are working on their own business plans for the system.” This suggests it will be down to individual NHS trusts who must decide whether to accept the early versions of the software.
Bradford, however, this week told E-Health Insider that the June date would not happen, and made clear the planned implementation “had a very specific scope” and would initially be limited to just one surgical speciality.
A spokesperson for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "The Lorenzo Release 1 early adopter project with CSC is going well and we are due to go-live on the solution in mid-July. The project has a very specific scope, which will focus on using Lorenzo Release 1 for results, reporting and requesting for imaging services in the planned orthopaedic, knee and hip replacement surgery speciality."
Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority, which Bradford falls within, were less specific stating: “Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is on track to be one of the early adopters for the first release of the Lorenzo solution later this year.”
A spokesperson for West Midlands Strategic Health Authority, meanwhile, told EHI that South Birmingham PCT will be an early adopter. “We expect them to go live in July”. They also suggested that the plan was for all three early adopter sites to go live at the same time.
The SHA said in a statement: “There are three early adopter sites for Lorenzo Regional Care, Release 1 – across NME. One of these is in the West Midlands – South Birmingham PCT, who are implementing community services. We currently expect the system to be live in those services in July. The purpose of the early adopter is to build a feedback loop from the NHS for the application before the full production release. At that point Release 1 will have the benefit of having gone through the early adopter phase."
Delays may also be occurring at Morecambe Bay, also due to go live in June. An NPfIT spokesperson for NHS North West, told EHI: “NHS North West is planning to go live with Lorenzo release 1 at Morecambe Bay Hospital in the summer and preparation is already underway.”
The spokesperson added: “A detailed implementation plan is in place and in the process of approval, which will map out how the roll out of Lorenzo is progressed in other trusts in the region.”