A beleaguered ambulance trust has picked a new computer aided dispatch amid ongoing reliability problems with its legacy system.
The South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has chosen Cleric Computer Services for its new CAD.
This decision comes amid an on-going review into whether faults in the current CAD have caused patient harm.
It also comes after a damning Care Quality Commission report that said the trust’s ongoing failure to update current system had a “potential impact upon reaching patients in a timely manner”.
A report in the trust’s January board papers show the trust picked Cleric on 13 January to replace its current supplier 3tc. The trust expects to deploy the new system in June.
In a statement provided to Digital Health News, a trust spokesperson said a new CAD had been picked to “to address a range of ongoing issues affecting the reliability of the system”.
This issues were identified in both an independent review and the CQC report in September.
“We expect the new system to improve CAD resilience as well as resolve issues identified by the CQC.”
In the trust’s October board papers, it revealed that call takers were unable to use the CAD to locate defibrillators.
The fault has potentially affected up 5610 calls since 2012 and review into possible patient harm is ongoing.
“A clinical review would now be undertaken to determine whether any potential patient harm could be attributed to the inability of the CAD in locating defibrillators within 200m.”
In September last year, CQC rated the trust as “inadequate” and raised concerns about its CAD.
The report said the trust must “take action to ensure the CAD system is properly maintained” and that it had “not been appropriately updated”.
It added that the “instability of the CAD” was considered a significant risk.
“Staff described a recent upgrade as detrimental to functionality and performance”.
The CQC said the CAD gazetter, its geographical directory, had not been updated for 18 months despite NHS England recommending six-weekly updates.
“The trust was not appreciative of this risk, having not addressed and responded to a safety alert, and its potential impact upon reaching patients in a timely manner.”
But, in its latest board papers, the trust said it was “wholly reliant” on 3tc to update the system. The supplier missed the last deadline, in December, to update the system, citing “technical difficulties”.
The trust had tried to apply pressure to senior staff at 3tc, but “the situation is compounded by a breakdown in relations between the UK supplier and the US manufacture of the software”, the report said.
It said the replacement CAD system will be “designed for and implemented in the UK ambulance sector”.
Simon Clough, chief technology officer at 3tc, said that while the update has been postponed the company provided an additional tool, free of charge, to ensure the trust continued operations.
The trust has also recently been under scrutiny after allegations of abuse and harassment, reported in The Telegraph. It was reported that desperate 999 call handlers attempted suicide amid an “endemic culture of bullying”.
The trust is not the only ambulance service to run into difficulties with its CAD.
On New Year’s day this year, London Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s had to log a 999 calls and 111 calls by hand for five hours after its CAD went down. An investigation is on-going into whether a patient’s death is linked to the IT outage.