Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has experienced severe problems with its GE Healthcare radiology information system, forcing it to halt its roll-out.

The trust says that it will not deploy the RIS at St Mary’s Hospital until the problems are resolved.

The top five issues are outlined in a project update presented to the trust’s audit risk and governance committee in August this year, provided to EHI in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

These include problems with workstations crashing and freezing, a lack of automated scheduling and appointment letter printing and inaccuracy in data extraction.

Slowness in moving from one patient to the next in a reporting workflow means that a radiologist takes longer to work through a list of images and slowness in protocolling and vetting imaging requests is causing delays.

The trust report says GE “acknowledges that they have not met their contractual obligations.”

“Until the system is operating as required it will not pass formal acceptance, it will not be rolled out to St Mary’s and GE will not be paid,” it adds.

“A series of releases of additional software to address the shortcomings have been agreed and delivery is being closely tracked.”

The project update says backlogs have been managed within acceptable parameters as the result of a “rigorous approach to the management of the workflow in the imaging departments” and “some heroic efforts from staff."

Eleven whole-time equivalent administrative staff have been deployed as well as an additional radiographer and “a significant number of additional radiologist sessions.”

Imperial told EHI it is in dialogue with GE to cover any potential or actual extra costs incurred.

The trust said that between the go-live date in May and the end of August, there were six recorded incidents related to issues with the GE picture archiving communications system and RIS.

The original date for the implementation of the GE PACS and RIS was December 2012.

The upgrade of the PACS at Hammersmith and Charing Cross hospitals was completed on time, but as the RIS implementation progressed: “It became clear that the gap between the functionality available in the GE RIS and the functionality required by a large multi-site teaching hospital was greater than had been anticipated,” the document says.

“The go-live date was delayed to allow for the delivery of enhancements.”

The RIS went live at Hammersmith and Charing Cross in May, but problems with the system meant that it was not rolled out to St Mary’s, as originally planned.

An Imperial spokesperson told EHI: “The introduction of a new RIS has presented some challenges, but staff in our imaging departments are working hard to ensure none of these problems affects patients. All urgent and cancer referrals for scans are prioritised and treated appropriately.

“We are working very closely with the supplier to improve performance and at the same time we have put in place plans to manage the workflow in our imaging departments and to ensure that business continues as usual.

“As part of these plans, extra staff have been brought in to speed up processes, our dedicated PACS IT team is working with the supplier to resolve technical issues, and there is daily monitoring of the performance of the system by senior and clinical management in addition to a twice-weekly review by a senior team so that any issues are highlighted and addressed.”

Jan de Witte, chief executive and president of GE Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions, described resolving the problems at Imperial as an “absolute priority."

“We have provided new releases of the software, invested in additional software patches to improve functionality, spent over 100 days on application support and training for the trust, and a number of issues have now been resolved.

“We are working with the trust to address additional costs incurred due to the system not performing as they expected,” he said.

“RIS has been successfully rolled out across many health authorities in Europe over the past ten years and we are committed to continuing to work towards a successful resolution for our customer.”