Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust, has in the past week suffered a four day problem with its Cerner Millennium Care Records System (CRS) that left it unavailable to some users for up to four days.

The problems began on Thursday, 5 June, and though largely resolved by Sunday were not fully fixed until Monday, 9 June. While the system was unavailable the trust reverted to manual paper systems.

Enquiries by EHI revealed that support to get the system running again was supplied by Fujitsu.

In a prescient June board paper the trust identified uncertainty over support arrangements as a result of Fujitsu ceasing to be LSP as a critical ‘red’ strategic risk to the trust. The paper says the trust is, “Working with SHA and SPfIT to ensure full maintenance contracts are in place and agree an escalation process in the event of a system failure…”

Shortly afterwards Winchester become the first trust in the south to have to put the interim support arrangements for its Millennium system to the test, since Fujitsu who installed the software had its regional local service provider contract (LSP) ended.

There has been a recent track record of problems with the centralised hosting of the software. In May alone there were two instances of region wide problems, resulting in the Millennium system becoming unavailable or very slow to access.

The latest problem at Winchester appears to have been more local, the trust says it resulted from “fragmented database tables leading to serious queus”. A series of fixes were tried from Thursday onwards with the problem resolved by a specialist supplied by Fujitsu.

A trust spokesperson said other key hospital systems, including WinPath, JAC and PACS were not effected and all functioned as normal.

Because of the way LSP contracts were set up under the NHS IT programme trusts have no direct relationship with their CRS software vendor, meaning they are unable to turn to Cerner for support.

So despite having its LSP contract terminated trusts currently remain wholly reliant on Fujitsu for support, until transition arrangements are completed. Fujitsu still runs the data centres that the centrally hosted Millennium system, installed at eight NHS trusts in the south, is delivered from.

Simon Wombwell, the trust’s director of finance and IM&T said: “The level of support we have had from Fujitsu has left us in no doubt of their commitment – their swift response, technical assistance and sheer hard work has been very much appreciated.”

A trust spokesperson said the trust was now satisfied with the support arrangements and would be removing it from their risk register.

A spokesperson for the Southern Programme for IT added: “Fujitsu has undertaken to work constructively and professionally with the NHS to manage the transfer of live services to a replacement supplier. During the transition, Fujitsu will continue to maintain all live services and manage an orderly transfer of service.”