Barts and the London NHS Trust faces fines of £400,000 a month for missing patient care targets as a result of problems with its new Cerner Millennium Care Records System, MPs have been told.
Richard Bacon, the Conservative MP for South Norfolk, and a member of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the new Cerner CRS system, provided by BT under the National Programme for IT in the NHS, had resulted in Barts facing a backlog of patients waiting for treatment.
The trust had been unable to report on 18-week referral to treatment times since the beginning of the year, and only began again in September.
Bacon told a Commons debate on 22 October: “We could talk about missing targets, but what really matters is that patients are being kept waiting longer than they should – in some cases, for longer than six months – because the hospital is unable to manage its information as a result of struggling with that dreadful system.”
He claimed that as a result of failing to meet the waiting time targets the trust faced being fined £400,000 a month by its main commissioner, NHS Tower Hamlets. The fine will come on top of a deficit of £6.7m.
The MP went on to say that the problems were not a reflection of the excellent care provided by the London hospital trust, but due to the IT system imposed upon it. “Having a system that does not work properly foisted on them is hampering its ability to continue to be a world-class hospital.”
Bacon went on to quote an E-Health Insider report report from 1 October that detailed how the NHS must deliver four new greenfield sites in the South willing to take Millennium or face paying BT a fine of £44m.
“If all goes well, the Department of Health will pay £73m to BT for installing Cerner Millennium in four hospital trusts in the south, but not if those trusts baulked at taking the software,” he said.
A spokesperson for the London Programme for IT, said: "NHS London is meeting regularly with Barts and the London to address the backlog of patients who may have waited longer than 18 weeks for treatment. This backlog is not due to technical issues with the Cerner Millennium system but to previous weaknesses in the Trust’s information management."
The spokesperson added: "Cerner Millennium is being used by a number of trusts across London to successfully meet their waiting time targets. Barts has now put in place robust measures to ensure that they are now able consistently meet this national standard and we will continue to monitor their performance."
A spokesperson for the trust said it was not in deficit, and added: “Barts and the London NHS Trust began reporting 18 week data again in September. The number of patients not treated within the 18 weeks target has reduced, and continues to do so, month on month.