A radiology consortium that covers eight trusts in the East Midlands is experiencing serious continuing problems with its IT systems, it has emerged.

The East Midlands Radiology Consortium’s (EMRAD) cloud-based solution is meant to make it possible for clinicians to access radiology images for every patient in the East Midlands, regardless of where they were taken.

But HSJ yesterday reported on system failures that have sometimes forced doctors to send images on DVD by taxi when seeking specialist advice for emergency patients.

In an e-mail seen by the publication, a chief information officer at one of the consortium trusts spoke of staff experiencing a “deep sense of frustration” with the system, due to “ongoing issues which are making work difficult on a day-to-day basis”.

EMRAD medical director Dr Tim Taylor told Digital Health News it was recognised “that the performance of the GE technical system does not currently meet the high standards we demand in the EMRAD consortium”.

He said the consortium trusts were “collectively holding GE to account to make improvements”.

“We now have an international team of GE’s technical experts on site in the East Midlands, working to deliver the technical system we require. We will continue to take this approach until the technical system meets the levels of performance that our clinical colleagues expect.”

A spokesperson for GE Healthcare told Digital Health News that “we deeply regret that our customer is experiencing issues”, and added: “our team is working closely with EMRAD to fix things as a priority”.

EMRAD is hosted by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, and also includes Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust, Kettering General Hospital NHS Trust and Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The consortium finalised a 10-year, £30m contract with GE Healthcare back in 2015. It covers the provision of a cloud-based solution incorporating a picture archiving and communication system (PACS), radiology information system (RIS), vendor neutral archive (VNA) and an imaging collaboration suite.

In September 2015, EMRAD was named by NHS England as one of the acute care collaboration vanguards – designed to rapidly implement new models of care.

This is not the first time problems have emerged with the consortium’s IT system. In February of this year, Digital Health News reported on a massive radiology reporting backlog at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

A spokesperson said the delay had been caused by technical problems with the implementation of the GE solution, and that 68 cases of potential patient harm had been identified.