Four trusts in Kent and Medway are in legal discussions with GE Healthcare over problems with the implementation of the company’s radiology information system.

The trusts signed a seven-year contract with GE for its RIS and picture archiving and communications system and went live in July last year.

However, they have since experienced problems with capturing activity, delays in appointment booking, data migration and system slowness.

The trusts previously used the company’s PACS, while the RIS was supplied by HSS, with both components contracted under the local service provider contract for the South which was set up as part of the National Programme for IT.

In September 2011 the trusts formed a consortium and went out to a collaborative tender in early 2012.

Earlier this year, further upgrades to the system took place, but the problems do not appear to have been resolved.

In Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust’s board papers for its August meeting, its director of information Stuart Jeffrey reported that “lawyers were still reviewing the position with East Kent and GE”.

Jeffrey said the trust had not made any provision in its income and expenditure position for any possible compensation which may be received.

In July, it reported  that it was having “ongoing problems” with the system and could not capture activity or report radiology costs to commissioners.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust’s August corporate risk register states that the delayed implementation of the system is affecting its ability to report and book appointments using an electronic system, with the increasing backlog of reports increasing the risk to patients.

The papers say the trust has formed a dedicated implementation programme and risk register for the project, with a daily meeting with suppliers and partners to address concerns and implementation delays.

They say an upgrade of the current system will be made, while GE has agreed to compensate for the additional staff costs that the consortium has incurred.

In May, EHI reported that Medway NHS Foundation Trust was still having problems with the implementation of the RIS, while at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust some of the issues appeared to have been resolved.

An East Kent spokeperson told EHI the trust has “seen some progress from GE in addressing issues relating to their RIS”.

The spokesperson said the company is continuing to work on the remaining issues, with the trust hoping to see further progress when the latest version of the RIS goes live later in October.

Medway and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells did not respond to a request for comment, while a Dartford and Gravesham spokesperson said there was nobody available to add to the information in the trust’s board papers.

A GE Healthcare spokesperson told EHI the company’s priority “is – and always has been – meeting our customer’s expectations”.

“Working closely with the consortium and the four trusts, we continue to make good progress both in terms of delivering our customer requirements for the functionality of the system and in our commercial discussions,” said the spokesperson.