James says EPR must pay for itself

  • 9 November 2010

Brian James, chief executive of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, has spelt out how the trust will fund its new EPR, which is due to go live in May 2011.

James famously procured Meditech version 6.0 outside the National Programme for IT in the NHS in 2008, and is now running a project that will see the trust redesign its clinical processes and become paperless with the support of the system.

At a session at eHealth Insider Live 2010, he said it had been funded with a loan from the NHS Bank at a very low rate of interest and a 2.2% hypothecation on all clinical departments, which had been supported by clinical directors. He said this amounted to to 1% of their budgets this year and 1.2% next year.

The finance package amounts to £30m over ten years for the EPR, with an additional £8m on other costs such as infrastructure and a new wireless network.

The trust will look to repay the loan through surpluses generated by increased efficiencies. For example, the trust anticipates that it will dramatically reduce the need for medical records staff as a result of the new system.

He said: “We currently have 30 people employed in the trust to chase medical records. That’s all they do. In future we will not need this role.”

All newly recruited administrative and clerical staff since 2008 have been on temporary contracts – currently about 200 people.

James added: “It has to pay for itself. We agreed the hypothecation with all the clinical departments on the basis that the new system would benefit them.”

His comments came just before health minister Simon Burns spelt out in his speech how there would be no more money for the information revolution that the government wants to see in the NHS.

Asked how he would respond to newspaper headlines claiming that the system was being paid for in admin and clerical jobs, James said: “We expect to face that accusation.

"But when I look at colleagues in neighbouring trusts and what they are trying to do to take costs out of the system, at least I can say we have a rational way of doing it that will save money and increase safety.

“The NHS is going to have to handle a lot of bad news about redundancies in the next year.”

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