Patients left untreated in U.K. hospital due to new Cerner IT system
Acute Care Electronic Medical Record from Cerner. Source: Cerner  
Dozens of patients at Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust in London went untreated for at least six months after the hospital introduced new Cerner IT systems under the NHS’ £12.7 billion ($23.83 billion) National Program for IT, according to Computer Weekly.

Barnet and Chase did not see or treat patients within government-imposed 26 week limits following difficulties with its roll-out of the Cerner Millennium Care Records Service. Barnet was the first in the capital to go live with the system under the National Program for IT (NPfIT).

The staff at Barnet and Chase was unaware of the problem for up to five months because they could not produce monthly information on patients, who had been waiting too long for treatment following the roll-out.

Cerner said in an official statement that “any program of this size and complexity takes time, and inevitably there will be issues that need to be worked through.”

The hosptials’ board paper said: "The introduction of a new Patient Administration System meant the [Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS] Trust was unable to produce monthly waiting time data between July 2007 and January 2008…The production of the waiting time data in February revealed a significant number of waiting time breaches which had occurred there were 63 inpatient breaches.”

Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals had 8,500 extra complaints from patients, largely because of delays in making follow-on appointments after introducing the Cerner Millenium Care Records Service. The hospitals did not re-admit patients whose operations were cancelled at the last minute, within 28 days, as required by government guidelines.

Computer Weekly reported that a surveillance system - for tracking patients whose operations were cancelled at the last minute by the hospital for non-clinical reasons - was not working in the Cerner Care Records Service.

Implementations in London and the south of England of the Cerner system - which has been partially modified for use in the United Kindgom - has caused disruption at several trusts including the Royal Free at Hampstead, Barts, where some cancer appointments were delayed.

“Any issues of performance or concerns about functionality are addressed jointly by Cerner, our partners and NHS CFH in partnership with the Trust. Cerner has dedicated personnel onsite within Trusts who work with staff and clinicians to help ensure implementations are as smooth as possible and to address any concerns that may arise,” Cerner said.

Barnet and Chase Farm executives said that the Cerner system requires staff to change the way they work.

“Teething problems are to be expected. However, it is clear that the patients and clinicians are beginning to see the potential benefits of the system,” NHS Connecting for Health which runs part of the NPfIT.

“We continue to work side by side with NHS Connecting for Health and our program delivery partners, such as BT in London, to help deliver a modern, effective and integrated technology infrastructure that puts the patient firmly at the heart of the NHS,” according to Cerner.