Brian James, chief executive of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, has said its strategic health authority threatened it with a “double whammy” of costs to stop it going outside the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

In a controversial speech at E-Health Insider Live ’09 about the trust’s decision to choose the US Meditech v6.0 electronic patient record system, James said the SHA had been “unhelpful” when it came to progressing its goal of becoming paperless within the next two to three years.

James said: “The SHA gave threats of having to pay for a system we wanted and for the Lorenzo product [which is due to be delivered to the North, Midlands and East of England].

"They wanted to charge us for pulling out of the national programme. There was never a price tag but there was a threat.”

He added: “The SHA really hasn’t helped at all really they have become an obstacle in what we wanted to do. The idea of moving outside of the national programme was fiercely opposed.”

If it had stayed with the national programme, The Rotherham would have eventually been due to implement iSoft’s Lorenzo, through local service provider CSC.

Instead, the trust is implementing a £30m, ten year solution from Meditech. Eight million pounds of that cost is being spent on service change and improvement.

During his presentation James said that the trust procured an alternative solution outside NPfIT because there was no clarity around when Lorenzo would be delivered or whether it would be fit for purpose.

He added: “We want an all singing all dancing paperless system, not Lorenzo Release 1. We were unlikely to see anything like what we wanted to procure until the other side of 2016.”

In response to a question from the audience at The ICC in Birmingham about how the trust avoided the costs threatened by the SHA, James said: “The project is an interim solution – an interim solution likely to last 15 years.”

Providing an update on how the project was progressing, James said that everything was going to plan.

He added: “We did the first coding drop last week and phase one which will involve 14 core and clinical systems will be implemented by July 2010 and phase two will go-live in 2011 with 12 more clinical systems.”

Link: Meditech