Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust has delayed its go-live with Cerner Millennium while it resolves outstanding technical issues, which may include questions about hosting.
The trust was planning to go live with Millennium on 26 March. However, this has now been delayed - eHealth Insider understands for at least six weeks.
A joint statement from Cerner and the trust said go-live dates were always provisional and frequently change.
“This is a significant project and therefore the priority is to ensure that the implementation is as smooth and efficient as is possible to achieve.”
The statement said a “dress rehearsal” had been held by the trust which was successful, but there were still some technical issues to be resolved. The deployment would not be“unduly” delayed, the statement concluded.
A source close to the project told EHI that the “showstopping” reason for the delay was a problem with the hosting contract that Royal Berkshire has with CSC.
The trust agreed a seven-year outsourcing deal, with an option to extend to ten years, with CSC worth up to £50m last summer.
A CSC press release issued at the time said the deal meant the company had day-to-day responsibility for hosting, developing and managing much of the trust’s IT and back-office processes.
Computer Weekly reported last November that the contract would make CSC “responsible for running Cerner.”
It quoted Royal Berkshire head of health informatics Elizabeth White as saying that CSC would support Millennium and was in talks with Cerner about doing this, but the trust retained responsibility for the implementation.
EHI has been told there are questions over whether the CSC contract does cover the hosting of the new electronic patient record and that this is delaying the deployment.
However, having initially declined to comment, CSC said the delay was “in no way” related to its hosting contract with the trust. The company said it had signed a hosting contract covering Cerner Millennium in 2010, and hosting is run from one of its data centres.
When asked for further information, CSC referred EHI to the trust for comment and the trust said it would not be making any further comment beyond the joint statement.
Sources also said that the trust had set up a new configuration for Millennium that was causing some concerns, predictably around data migration.
“Testing suggested that not all the data was coming over cleanly and they could have problems around inpatient data and outpatients,” a source said.
Royal Berkshire quit the National Programme for IT in the NHS in 2008 and later signed a deal with University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre to deliver the Millennium system.
However, the deployment never seems to have gone smoothly. EHI understands that UPMC is still involved in the deployment, but it is being almost entirely handled by Cerner and the trust.
The project has also seen a number of changes of personnel. EHI sources have said there are issues regarding ownership of the programme within the trust, which is reportedly poor, that few trust staff are involved, and that there has been an over-reliance on contractors.
At the same time, there have been reports of problems at the top of the trust, with a clash between the trust chair and the chief executive.
The Reading Chronicle reported earlier this month that the board is looking to appoint a temporary chairman to replace Colin Maclean, who quit after 12 years.
Underlining the delays to the project, a Monitor Forward Plan Strategy Document for March 2012-14 says the implementation of phase one of the EPR system was due to be completed by the end of quarter three of this financial year.
Implementation of phase two was due to be completed by July 2012 and savings achieved over the 2013-14 financial year, the report says.
These are due to be realised “across pathology, change in working practices, task removals, error reductions, efficient delivery and improved coding.”
The report says the capital spend required by the trust on the EPR was £6.5m in 2011-12 and £3.5m in 2012-13.
It says the trust will also be investing £4.4m in IT infrastructure over this financial year which would “make it fit for purpose for maintaining and supporting EPR once it goes live.”
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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