NHS trust overspends on Cerner patient record system by nearly 100%

North Bristol NHS trust says £2.33m hike in costs of Cerner system in recent months were due to need for extra staff, hardware and technical resources

North Bristol NHS trust has confirmed it has overspent on its Cerner electronic patient record (EPR) system by almost 100% in recent months.

The trust spent £5.36m implementing a Cerner e-patient record system in the 11 months to the end of February, £2.33m more than orignally planned.

The budget overrun was due to the provision of extra “floor walkers” to help hospital staff with the new system and additional technical resources, according to board papers published by the trust. The resources were needed to support the March relaunch of Cerner undertaken intended to fix problems that the trust’s outpatient clinics had experienced with the system.

Some additional costs for hardware also contributed to the overspend, the board said.

Ruth Brunt, chief executive at North Bristol, said: “We put in place extra staff to rectify issues with data migration of clinic lists and ensure that our new system could be fully operational as quickly as possible in all areas.”

The trust began implementation of the Cerner system on 8 December 2011, starting with emergency and intensive care wards, before moving to community hospital wards. The work was completed at the end of February when all clinics went live.

“The implementation went as planned in our emergency department, in our two minor injury units and 60 plus ward areas, but we experienced significant problems in outpatients, and some issues in theatres,” Brunt added.

In March 2012 the trust said the EPR roll out had led to a series of clinical incidents. In the first few weeks after its implementation, the trust cited Cerner as the causal factor in 16 clinical incidents, including problems such lack of patient notes and incorrect clinic lists.

Brunt said that problems with the Cerner roll out have been overcome and that the EPR system is currently working successfully.

By the time the trust’s new £430m hospital at Southmead is completed in April 2014, the trust intends that it will be only using electronic patient information.

“The trust is now working to consolidate and optimise the system across the organisation and working towards getting the benefits we envisaged when we embarked on this journey, and prepare for the move to the new hospital in 2014,” Brunt said.

An independent review into the issues surrounding the implementation of the EPR system has been commissioned by the trust.

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.

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