Failed NHS IT system will cost £7m to stabilise

Clinician's computer meltdown

A flawed IT system that led an NHS Trust to declare a serious incident' in July will cost 7 million to fix, the government has confirmed.

Faults in patients record management software Lorenzo led to potentially 14,600 patient discharge summaries not being sent to GPs between September 2017, when East and North Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust adopted the software, and July 2018.

The current estimates made by the Trust for work required to stabilise the IT system, developed by DXC Technology, is 7 million, according to junior health minister Jackie Doyle-Price MP.

Answering parliamentary questions put forward by the shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth MP, Doyle-Price also revealed that 21 Trusts also use Lorenzo, primarily based in the Midlands and the North of England.

"The Trust's foremost priority is to provide our patients with high quality care that keeps them safe from harm," said East and North Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust's medical director Dr Michael Chilvers.

"At present, there is no evidence that any patients have come to harm.

"The Trust is prioritising the review of discharge summaries for those patients where a follow-up action (such as a further appointment or test being carried out) might have been needed.

"These patients will have their records reviewed individually and should any outstanding actions be discovered, the Trust will take the lead in getting them sorted this will include informing any individual patients involved, as well as their GPs."

The Trust has also set up a Task and Finish action group, Doyle-Price added, comprising representatives from the Trust, GP practices as well as the ENH Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The group will examine the status of unsent discharge summaries and provide clinical and operational oversight on managing the distribution of these documents.

An East and North Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust spokesperson told IT Pro the 7 million figure will not be allocated wholly on resolving discharge summaries, and that a further update from the Trust is due later today.

Lorenzo developer DXC Technology, previously known as CSC, sustained criticism five years ago in a controversy surrounding the NHS' National Programme for IT (NPfIT). Then chair of the public accounts committee Margaret Hodge MP branded the developer a "rotten company" and criticised IT procurement officials for giving Trusts millions of pounds to buy the Lorenzo software over other providers.

Although DXC offers Lorenzo to 21 Trusts, under previous arrangements stretching as far back as 2002 the developer had rights to supply 160 Trusts with software, but this never materialised.

The failure of both CSC and NPfIT to deliver, and a subsequent renegotiation of the contract, saw the scope of the company's involvement with the NHS reduced. The controversy was described as 'the biggest IT failure ever seen', with costs running into the billions of pounds.

IT Pro approached the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS Digital, the Labour Party, as well as the developer DXC Technology but did not get a response at the time of writing.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.