Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has received £8 million in funding from the Department of Health to upgrade its IT systems.
The money is part of £30 million investment from the DH that also covers refurbishment and expansion of the trust’s A&E department, the relocation of its endoscopy unit, the refurbishment of its day surgery unit, and the redevelopment of parking facilities.
Regarding the IT investment, Bolton’s chief information officer Rachel Dunscombe told Digital Health News the £8 million is just for “remediation” and to support the exit of the trust from the national contract for clinical systems, which ends in July 2016.
She said further funding is required to purchase a new electronic patient record.
In its business case to Monitor, Bolton splits the investment into ‘burning platforms’ that are to be replaced on a ‘like-for-like’ basis, ‘burning platforms’ that need to be replaced on a strategic basis, and other more general IT investments to create “sustainable, fit for purpose IM&T”.
The like-for-like replacements include the trust’s virtual desktop project, which will see the trust implement Microsoft 7 to replace XP, which became unsupported in April 2015.
Bolton will also replace all hardware and software associated with community services, which were transferred to the trust earlier this decade to create an integrated acute/community trust.
Another like for like replacement is the trust’s patient administration system, iPM, and its theatre system, Ormis, both of which were supplied by CSC through the National Programme for IT in the NHS.
The trust wants to contract directly with CSC for these systems, and to merge two instances of iPM into a single patient record. However, it will use its own annual budget to do this.
On a strategic basis, it is looking to replace its iCM order communications system, which was also supplied through the national programme, and which will also cease to be supported by CSC following the expiry of national contracts next July.
“Current hardware and software is reaching is approaching its end-of-life, risking vulnerabilities in perimeter security,” says the business case.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has been through a difficult period. It was judged to be in breach of its licence by Monitor in 2012, after it ran up a deficit of £14.5 million and concerns were raised about how it was being run.
Both the chair and chief executive were replaced. Monitor announced recently that the trust is now fully compliant with its performance, finance and governance requirements; making it the first to successfully come out of a financial breach of licence.
The trust finished last year with a surplus of £600,000. About three quarters of the total £30 million that has been announced for IT and other investment is provided as a loan that the trust will have to repay.
Justin Collings, senior regional manager at Monitor, said in a statement that: "We are pleased that patients are benefiting from improvements in the way the trust is run and that extra funding has been provided to ensure its buildings and IT systems are appropriate for staff to provide safe, high quality care.
"Bolton is a success story that shows it is possible for a foundation trust to turn itself around from a position of large deficits and poor organisational performance, to be a financially viable trust delivering good outcomes for patients."
More general IT investments mentioned in the business case include upgrading the trust’s data centres to improve resilience, and refreshing its servers to “meet the trust ambition of only using servers under eight years old.”
Other improvements include replacing the infrastructure for pathology and pharmacy services, some of which is relying on servers that are out of support.
The trust also wants to replace its eight-year-old system for wi-fi and to introduce simplified sign-on so that staff no longer need to enter numerous passwords for different tools – and it can meet the demand of medical students for wi-fi access.