Four Kent trusts experiencing problems with a new radiology information system from GE Healthcare are continuing to use a lookup version of their legacy HSS RIS.

The HSS RIS was originally procured under the National Programme for IT and managed by CSC, the local service provider for the area.

When the contract ran out at the end of June, the RIS should have been switched off. In fact, the four trusts – East Kent Hospitals University, Dartford and Gravesham, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, and Medway – have continued to use the HSS system to look at old patient records.

EHI Imaging Informatics has already reported that the trusts, which procured the new GE RIS as a consortium, have been experiencing problems with it, causing delays to patient appointments and scan results.

Chris Yeowart, director of strategic business development at Wellbeing Software Group, which supplies the HSS RIS, said: “Although the first national contract ended over two months ago and CSC’s data centre has now been decommissioned, HSS is still supporting the trusts by providing crucial access to historic data. Without this, the associated radiology departments could not function.”

The access to historic data has “largely been provided at goodwill and without contract,” said Yeowart, who is concerned about the effect on patients of the failure to implement a new RIS successfully.

“Clinical care has almost certainly been impacted, not to mention the inconvenience to clinical staff and escalating cost.”

Chris Bull, a healthcare informatics professional and director of Purple Fish consultancy, said there were potential safety risks in continuing to access the legacy system as well as using the new GE system.

“How do I know that when I log-on I’ve actually got the most up-to-date information I need on that particular patient?”

Bull added that the difficulties the trusts were experiencing illustrated the importance of careful planning by trusts and suppliers before attempting to migrate data from one system to another.

“It all comes down to good project planning where you do a full risk assessment. Managing a hospital project is extremely complex,” he said.

A spokesperson for GE Healthcare said: “GE Healthcare is working closely with the trusts and has brought in experts, trainers and support staff to ensure the newly installed radiology information system is working to specification.

“We continue to work on the issues with the trusts, a huge amount of work has and is being done and we are making good progress against our objectives.”

Read more about the issues with implementing a new radiology information system in the Insight feature RIS replacements: hard to do, easy to get wrong.