Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has spent £1.5 million on consultancy firm Ernst and Young to improve its data quality and performance management function following a series of failures in the area.

The firm completed a six month consultancy period for Lancashire Care last month after previous attempts to improve the trust’s operations had “not delivered a stable or sustainable solution”, according to its January board papers.

Ernst and Young was initially hired for three months up to the end of December 2014 to address concerns around performance management and data quality, but this was extended to the end of March 2015 at a reported total cost of £1.46 million.

The trust’s in-house spend on performance management and information is £1.34 million. However, the papers say this high cost has delivered “poor return on investment in terms of quality outputs”.

Investment of around £500,000 on employing interim consultants had not addressed fundamental issues and led to the board receiving “false assurances around management actions to improve the situation”.

“We have failed a number of times previously for a range of different reasons and we cannot afford to fail again,” say the papers.

“It is essential that as we move towards the implementation of a new clinical system that we have a clear information strategy as well as a clear strategy for information technology. We currently have a plethora of fragmented and standalone data management systems which are disjointed, fragile and unreliable.

“This is further compounding our ability to report accurate and timely information. As part of any work moving forwards it is important that we include our approach to technology so that we are building a function which is more future proof.”

Rachel Monaghan, associate director of performance at Lancashire Care, told EHI News that the trust has worked with the consultancy firm to develop a performance improvement plan to progress its reporting systems and create an “efficient single data warehouse”.

“Extensive work was required for this and due to a reduction in capacity within the performance team, the trust utilised the services of Ernst and Young to help progress this,” she said.

“Through working with Ernst and Young the trust has automated a number of its reports and is close to having a single data warehouse which better enables information to flow across all of the trust’s key measures.”

Lancashire Care is also considering what to do with its existing clinical systems.

This includes patient administration system iPM – provided by CSC under the National Programme for IT – and an in-house community clinical system known as Electronic Care Record, installed in 2006.

“The trust is currently exploring future options for both of these systems with a view to either upgrading or replacing these,” said Monaghan.