U.K. $19B EMR project plagued with setbacks

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Many NHS hospitals have had difficulty in getting IT systems to work. Image Source: ComputerWeekly  

Progress on Connecting for Health, a £12 billion ($19.3 billion U.S.) program designed to give doctors instant access to patients' records across the country, has stalled, raising questions about whether the civil IT project in England will ever be finished.

Connecting for Health (CfH), the aim of which is to give every patient a comprehensive EMR, has faced a series of problems over its size and complexity since it was first launched in 2002, reported the Financial Times.

In May, the National Audit Office said the project was running at least four years late, but still appeared "feasible.” However, since that time, many hospitals have had difficulty in getting systems to work.

In addition, the contractor originally hired to build the patient record system for southern England, Fujitsu, was fired in June. And BT, one of the two key remaining contractors, has been unable to agree a price for taking over the work Fujitsu had begun.

According to the Financial Times, health ministers originally promised that the first installation of patient record software in northern England would take place in June; however, four months later, the system has still not gone live and no date has been set.

CfH's published plans for the next three months do not include a single installation of a patient administration system into any acute hospital trust. And while NHS Trust hospitals in the south are being given a choice of working with BT, the supplier for London, or CSC, the supplier for the north, have not yet signed up with either, the Financial Times reported.
A spokesman for CfH acknowledged that BT was "taking stock" of the difficulties that have interrupted the program. According to the Financial Times, the spokesman said it was more important to get the quality of installations right rather than promise delivery on a particular date.