Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust has shelved its planned 12 July implementation of a new Cerner Millennium patient record system due to uncertainty created by Fujitsu’s departure from the NHS IT programme.

The decision was taken just days before the trust was to begin transferring data from its old TDS patient administration system. Hundreds of staff have already been trained on the new system, which was also to be used by two neighboring primary care trusts.

James Scott, the chief executive of RUHB NHS Trust, wrote to staff on 26 June telling them the decision had been taken by the Project Board in the light of the “current external contractual position”.

The implementation was supposed to be carried out by Fujitsu, who on 28 May were sacked as the local service provider for the South of England. As part of the exit transition arrangements Fujitsu, who last week begun redundancy procedures in their health team, were meant to finish the implementation at Bath.

Scott said that RUHB had “spent a massive amount of time working with people at the highest levels of Fujitsu, Cerner and the NHS” to understand how the project would be supported by Fujitsu and then by their successor. But despite messages of support the assessment of the Project Board was that there “was not sufficient confidence as of today to allow us to start the countdown to ‘go-live’.”

E-Health Insider has learned that as a result of the RUHB decision the Fujitsu implementation team has now been stood down.

Scott said in his letter that the future of the major implementation project was now uncertain: “The immediate consequence of the recommendation for our own staff is that no further Millennium training or change activities will take place until we are clear about the way forward.”

In response to questions from E-Health Insider a spokesperson for the NHS South West strategic health authority said: At the project board held on 25 June 2008, the status of the project was reviewed in preparation for commencing the final activities before go-live. The project board concluded that there were concerns around the future support of the service which it had not been possible to resolve, and recommended that the project should not proceed on the planned date.”

The spokesperson added: “The trusts involved – the Royal United Hospital NHS Trust, Bath & North East Somerset PCT and Wiltshire PCT – will consider the impact of this recommendation and future discussions will be required before a new timetable can be decided.”

In his letter to staff the trust chief executive said: “I am extremely disappointed to be writing to let you know of this change as I know just how hard the project team and operational leaders of the trust have been working to get us ready for 12th July.”