Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust is spending an additional £44,000 a month in staff costs to compensate for problems caused by its new radiology information system from GE Healthcare.
The figure is in a summary document of a meeting of the trust’s Quality Service Committee, which provides further detail about the problems it has experienced with the RIS.
The radiology system was procured by a consortium of four Kent trusts – East Kent, Dartford and Gravesham, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, and Medway – and all have experienced issues.
The Dartford and Gravesham document says booking-in of patients takes longer than the previous version, causing a “backlog of patients waiting to book in and delays in the waiting room”.
Data migration has also been a problem. “Data did not come across correctly from the old system,” the document says.
“Some data did not migrate at all, for example all the examination data did not carry over. Diary pages are empty for future appointments or show any historic scanned documents. Migration of data shows all GP referrals as outpatient referrals.”
The document notes that there is a double log-in to the GE RIS system, which is an “information governance” issue and that the “NHS Number is not in banner bar despite assurances to the contrary.”
Other problems reported include system crashes, system slowness, inconsistent searching on the system and the fact that searching for scanned data involves copying and pasting the URL.
At a meeting of the quality service committee on 22 July, the risk score, using the NHS risk matrix, which is based on the seriousness of the risk multiplied by its likelihood of happening, was given as 20.
At a meeting on 19 August, there had been no improvements and the system “remains unsafe with new risks reported on a daily basis.”
The risk score had been increased to a maximum of 25, and the risk was raised as a serious incident on the Strategic Executive Information System.
In September the risk score remained at 25 and staff were being asked to maintain enhanced vigilance to prevent errors.
John Headley, chairman of the Kent and Medway Medical Imaging Consortium, said: “While there have been recognised problems with the implementation, improvements have been made and we continue to work hard with GE to produce the system our clinicians and patients need.
“GE is committed to resolving any remaining problems and is following an agreed plan to do so. The consortium is in negotiations with GE over additional costs it has incurred.”
Jan de Witte, chief executive and president of GE Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions, said the company met with the consortium last month to discuss how to resolve the RIS implementation issues, which is of “highest priority”.
“GE Healthcare is addressing the productivity and technical items that the consortium prioritised by investing in resources to help the trusts adopt the new system – the equivalent of hundreds of training days for system users,” he said.
The company deployed around 20 dedicated software engineers to develop a new release of the software, which was provided to the consortium last week.
Three software patches have been provided, of which two are ready for roll out and the third is being tested by the consortium. An additional release is expected to be provided in the next few weeks.
“GE is also working with the consortium to address costs incurred due to the system not performing as expected by the trusts,” de Witte said.
“We believe that the additional software investment, user training and mapping the information flow of each trusts’ unique processes, are the key to optimising the RIS so that it performs to its full potential.
“We regret any adverse impact this implementation may have caused to our customers and their patients. GE is committed to ensuring that the Kent and Medway roll-out will be a success to the satisfaction of our customers and NHS patients served by the consortium NHS trusts,” he added.