The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is planning for a “low-key” go live of its new Cerner Millennium electronic patient record system tonight.

The trust has declined to confirm that it is planning of going live this weekend, but E-Health Insider understands the trust aims to go live this Friday.

Newcastle is planning one of the largest ever hospital IT implementations in the UK when it switches over to a new Cerner Millennium system, to be run across five hospital sites, and initially be used by up to 4,000 staff.

Newcastle is understood to be installing a fuller version of the Cerner Millennium product than the simplified version of the system bought under the NHS IT programme.

Plans for a go-live on August Bank Holiday go-live at Newcastle were put on hold, and a revised late October go-live was also pushed back.

Sources close to the trust say it has taken time to work through a series of problems, but is now sufficiently confident to attempt a go live. In testing, problems are thought to have been identified around reporting on 18-week waits, similar to those previously experienced at trusts including Barts and the London.

Sources also indicate that up until last week staff involved had only received verbal instructions to prepare for this weekend’s go-live date “due to concerns about any problems and slippage”.

One NHS source close to the project told EHI the project was going “exceptionally well”. Once switched on the Cerner Millennium system will be used for order communications, initially for inpatients with outpatients to follow.

Another EHI reader claimed the trust is suffering from “the same problems that have been experienced by other sites exposing the fact that the McKesson legacy system has more functionality suited to the way the NHS works”.

In August the trust decided to take more time to make sure the switch to the new system did not disrupt business processes.

David Allison, the trust’s business operations and development director, told EHI in September: “The trust reached technical completion by the end of August. But I wanted to be clear we understood operational implications of go-live.”

The care records system is being installed outside the NHS National Programme for IT in the NHS, under an April 2008 deal with University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC).

The delays are understood to be causing growing anxiety among UPMC staff, who are keen to move on to their next project at Royal Berkshire, which has also contracted to take Cerner outside NPfIT, in deal involving UPMC and Newcastle.

UPMC is thought to have about 25 staff on site working on the Newcastle implementation project, these are currently “free” to the trust and not covered by a subsequent support and maintenance agreement.

The trust plans to go-live with the new Cerner Millennium PAS. This will include admission, discharge and transfer summaries, booking and scheduling of theatres and Choose and Book. 

Eventually the implementation is planned to cover the whole trust, 1,500 beds and 11,000 staff.

At the time of going to press, the trust had yet to respond to questions about its planned go-live date.


The Newcastle upon Tyne University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust