Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust continues to work on stabilising its Lorenzo electronic patient record system after going live in March this year.

The trust was the first combined acute and community trust to deploy the EPR from CSC. However EHI reported in May this year that the trust had hired 25 temporary staff to tackle data quality, reporting and backlog issues.

Walsall aimed to get to ‘business as usual’ by the end of September, but the latest board papers reveal that the project to stabilise the system “has proved far more challenging than first thought”.

The go-live of Lorenzo identified “some efficiencies” that could be made in the trust and it has launched several projects to get to grips with these, including an outpatient improvement programme.

Ian Baines, the trust’s director of finance and performance, told EHI that a lot of work has gone into stabilising the system but that a completion date has not been set.

“Lorenzo data and the objectives of the stabilisation project are regularly reviewed and progress is being made in a number of areas,” he said.

“The outpatient access team and call centre have recently been re-designed to work along care group themes ensuring appropriate knowledge for staff when dealing with appointments and patient flows throughout the trust. 

“However, as originally scoped, there are a number of stabilisation projects which will continue until they reach completion. At this stage it is difficult to give a definitive date for completion.”

He added that the changes have shown improvement and progress for front line staff when recording data.

“We now need to ensure that all the changes lead to an improving the patient experience and staff engagement particularly in our outpatient service.”

The trust’s September board paper says that Lorenzo has put pressure on a number of areas, in particular its outpatients department.

“However the issues that need to be tackled are not just about the embedding of a new IT system – leadership, responsibility, resources and basic processes have been brought to the fore and Lorenzo will not embed fully until these are tackled.

“A number of managers and clinicians have been working hard to address the problems of booking and flow through the hospital.”

One of the main issues has been submitting validated data for referral to treatment times and the trust hired 25 temporary staff in May to tackle data quality, reporting and backlog issues that had arisen with the deployment.

This meant that the trust was unable to report waiting times data to NHS England. However, last month, the trust was able to do so.

“Our aim is to improve each month and our focus in September was to complete the referral to treatment incomplete pathway return for the Department of Health, which we achieved,” said Baines.

The trust’s integrated recovery plan also says that the trust has experienced issues in elective procedures.

“We have also experience elective capacity pressures as a combination of cancellations due to emergency workload, increases in referrals and scheduling difficulties following the move to our new PAS,” says the plan.

The trust is also seeing a rising backlog in ‘outcomed appointments’.

“This has to now be the main focus of the trust, clinicians and the Lorenzo project team in order to stem the tide and but more importantly change behaviours,” says the board paper.

A spokesperson from CSC told EHI: 'We continue to work closely with Walsall as they execute their transformation programme.We are confident that Lorenzo is providing a firm foundation for improvement.'

The trust recently appointed a new chief operating officer, Richard Cattell, in order to strengthen its operational management.