Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has blamed a glitch in the use of Cerner Millennium for its apparently poor performance on long waits.

Department of Health referral to treatment time data, released this week, suggested the trust was one of the worst performing in the country.

The figures for November appeared to show that more than 700 people had to wait more than a year for treatment after being referred.

However, the trust’s director of information, Luke Readman, told eHealth Insider the figures were “inflated” because of an issue with the way staff were using the electronic patient record system.

The November figures were high because staff had been failing to ‘complete’ the patient’s pathway in the system; leaving ‘incomplete’ pathways in the statistics.

Readman said the statistics had now been validated, and the correct number for patients waiting more than a year was actually 51, which was shown in the December count.

“What we’ve not been doing properly is recording that [a patient’s treatment pathway] has been closed. It has been one of those things that we did less well than we could have.

“We need to get it [Millennium] working as best it can, and we are putting in place those processes now,” he said.

A statement from the trust, also quoting Readman, reiterated that the implementation of a new system was a major undertaking involving “radical change to the way in which information is recorded.”

“The introduction of such significant change will inevitably involve a learning curve in which the use of the system will be developed and refined to achieve optimum accuracy and efficiency.”

Readman said the trust was now confident refinements had been undertaken which enabled it to provide accurate and meaningful information.

Wirral signed a ten year contract with Cerner for Millennium outside the National Programme for IT in the NHS in December 2008. It is planning to switch off its old Eclipsys TDS 7000 system at some point this year.