A troubled radiology information system that is used by a consortium of trusts covering over two million people failed for over a week.

The Kent and Medway consortium, which includes four trusts, suffered a hardware failure to its RIS between 28 August and 5 September, following an upgrade.

The September board papers for Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, one of the four, include a radiology report that says the RIS system has “not been fully functional” for the past fortnight and that a “significant reporting backlog” has developed.

This has led to complaints from clinics as patients have attended without their imaging report being available, the board papers continue.

In a statement to Digital Health News, the trust said: “The failure of the RIS system was of great concern to the trust”.

Dartford and Gravesham added that as far as it was concerned “patient care was not compromised, all appointments went ahead and no patients were cancelled”. A spokesperson said a contingency plan was enacted, and the trust is now up to date with referrals and requests.

GE Healthcare provides the RIS to the whole of Kent and Medway. It won the contract to replace the trusts’ existing picture archiving and communications and RIS systems in the run up to the end of the national contracts placed by the National PACS programme.

Many trusts are reluctant to replace a RIS, and since going live in July 2013 there have been a number of issues.  

In September 2014, Digital Health News reported the trusts and the company were in legal discussions following continued problems with capturing activity, delays in appointment booking, data migration and system slowness.

The board papers detailing the recent RIS outage also say that “in the longer term the trust plans to give notice on the RIS contract”, which runs for seven years.

However, the papers say it wants to extend the PACS used on site at Queen Mary’s to Darent Valley Hospital. In its statement, the trust said: “We will not be pulling out of the GE contract, which is a Kent and Medway wide agreement”.

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.

The four trusts in the consortium are Dartford and Gravesham, East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

In a statement to Digital Health News today, GE said: “GE regrets these problems and worked very closely with the trusts to resolve the technical issues.”


*Third Kent trust reports RIS problems

*Kent trusts in legal talks over GE RIS

* Kent and Medway RIS problems continue