London Ambulance Service NHS Trust may terminate its contract with American supplier Northrop Grumman if a second attempt to go-live with a new dispatch system fails.
The trust initially attempted to launch the CommandPoint computer aided dispatch system in early June last year.
However, the technical switch-over to the new system had disastrous effects; with the system failing, staff having to use pen and paper, and then finally aborting the go-live by reverting to the old CTAK dispatch system.
An investigation into the incident has found the response to calls was delayed by more than three hours in some cases. One patient has lodged a legal claim for the delay he experienced, and the service has received four additional complaints.
A patient died in one of the calls affected. However, a separate investigation concluded that it could not be determined whether they would have survived if the response had been faster.
Board papers drawn up for a board meeting next week say an investigation into the 8 June go-live attempt concluded that critical configuration issues were not identified during the testing phase.
It also found there were no operational procedures in place in the event of a critical system failure and that the product failed to deliver the system, technical and operational functionality expected.
The trust has since been working to further test the system, and is planning to go-live again on 28 March.
However, the trust’s director of information management and technology, Peter Suter, said if that go-live failed then “the contract with Northrop Grumman would need to be reconsidered.”
The trust completed testing the software prior to Christmas, when it began training staff. Leading up the March go-live, the software will be subjected to four separate live runs, with the system staying live for progressively longer periods of time.
If the system fails to go live in March, the trust will abandon any further attempts to go-live before the Olympics in July.
Instead, it will keep operating the current CTAK system. However, the trust decided to procure a new system in 2007 because CTAK was deemed ‘unstable’ and in need of replacement.
An analysis of the CTAK system has now determined it is stable enough to handle the increased pressure during the Olympics, which is estimated to be an increase of 5.6% to 8.9% on top of the usual volume for this time of year.