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IT head “ashamed” of systems

The departing head of the UK NHS IT programme Richard Granger has said he is ashamed of the quality of some of the systems put into the NHS by Connecting for Health (CfH) suppliers, singling Cerner out for criticism.

Going further than before in acknowledging the extent of failings of systems provided to some parts of the NHS – such as Milton Keynes – the Connecting for Health boss, said, “Sometimes we put in stuff that I’m just ashamed of. Some of the stuff that Cerner has put in recently is appalling.”

He said a key reason for the failings of systems provided was that Cerner and prime contractor Fujitsu had not listened to end users.

In December 2005 Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre became the first NHS site to go live with Cerner Millennium under the NHS IT programme. It has since suffered a string of problems, ranging from missing appointment records to inability to report on waiting times. The Millennium system – now installed at six NHS locations in the South – remains unable to directly integrate with Choose and Book or meet 18-week reporting requirements.

In April, 79 members of staff from Milton Keynes NHS Trust signed a letter outlining their frustrations at the Millennium system, stating: “In our opinion the system should not be installed in any further hospitals.

CfH said there had been some “unacceptable problems” with the new system installed at Milton Keynes. The hospital trust was subsequently visited by Granger and NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson to learn of the problems first-hand. Speaking at the BMA’s annual representative meeting on 29 June, Wrede said: “We should have a public inquiry. The people who made the original Cerner contract should be brought to book and as Cerner Millennium R0 [release zero] is not fit for purpose…” The motion calling for a public enquiry was passed.