An NHS trust is considering ditching its new electronic patient record software in order to revert to its 20-year old system, in a move that underlines the troubles faced by the giant NHS IT project.
Worthing and Southlands Hospitals NHS Trust faced problems with its new system and is planning to abandon it to expedite a merger with a neighbouring trust, according to E-Health Insider, a website that has tracked the programme from its inception.
The news came as the Commons public accounts committee issued a scathing report arguing that the completion - even four years late - of the mighty £12.7bn NHS IT scheme "must now be in doubt".
Edward Leigh, the committee's chairman, said the delivery risks were "as serious as ever" following the termination last May of Fujitsu's contract to install and run the record across the whole of the south of England. Final arrangements for replacing Fujitsu have still not been agreed more than seven months after the company was fired.
"Ministers need to take their heads out of the sand," said Richard Bacon, a committee member. He added the programme was in "deep trouble" and "so far behind schedule that hospitals are walking away".
The first promised deployments of record software in the north of England have still not been completed, the latest deadline of last autumn having again been missed. In London further deployments at large acute hospitals have been put on hold until serious problems with existing installations have been solved - contributing to a big profits warning last week from BT, the London supplier.
Mr Leigh said the original aim was for the systems to be fully implemented by 2010. "The truth is that, while some are complete or well advanced, the major ones such as the care record systems are way off the pace. Even the revised completion date of 2014-2015 now looks doubtful."
David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, has conceded that the programme is "at a pivotal point" and cannot "go on and on" in its current state. He told the committee, however, that he remained confident the NHS would have a workable system by 2015.
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