Barts Health NHS Trust has suspended reporting of its referral to treatment waiting time data to address “significant” IT problems.
The issues are in part due to the implementation of a new electronic patient record system at Whipps Cross Hospital, which has had a “significant adverse impact” on data quality in outpatients, as well as the failure of an RTT validation database.
Barts' December board papers state that data quality has been a major area of concern for the trust, which has been operating with three legacy data warehouse systems and three patient tracking lists.
The implementation of the Cerner Millennium system at Whipps Cross had led to data quality problems and was “compounded” by the failure of an RTT validation database on September 22.
A review of the trust’s IT and reporting systems had revealed “some fundamental issues” in the way that patients were being placed on lists and prioritised for treatment.
In his report for the board meeting, chief executive Peter Morris said that the trust was falling "significantly short” of the 18-week RTT standard, leading to the decision to suspend mandatory data reporting.
Morris said the trust has developed detailed plans to address the data quality problems and reduce waiting lists. Stronger governance has also been put in place at Bart’s to monitor the work, including the creation of an access standards subcommittee on the board’s quality assurance committee.
The board papers said the efforts to resolve the data quality issues will revolve around ensuring there is a clinical harm process in place; focusing on training programmes and standard operating policies; improving clinical engagement; and establishing a demand and recovery plan.
The trust also has a goal of moving to a single data warehouse and patient tracking list "as soon as possible".
Barts is not the only trust to experience recent problems with RTT data.
In October, EHI reported that the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust had inherited RTT data quality issues following its acquisition of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust earlier this year. In August, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust reported it was addressing “some challenging issues” with data quality after deploying Cerner Millennium.
In July 2009, the former Barts and the London NHS Trust also suspended its RTT data reporting after going live with Cerner Millennium.
A Barts Health NHS Trust spokesperson told EHI: "In light of data quality concerns raised as a result of significant IT issues experienced across the trust, we have taken the decision to suspend the monthly reporting of patient waiting times data for the 18 weeks Referral to Treatment (RTT) standard.
“We will hold review meetings with NHS England, the NHS Trust Development Authority and our commissioners on a regular basis, to discuss progress and when we can look to resume reporting data.”
The spokesperson said the trust will “do our utmost to ensure this does not further impact on the level of care, treatment and compassion we provide" to patients.