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NHS pulls plug on ailing £30m IT system

2 years late, and staff can't make it work

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Scottish health bosses have pulled the plug on the launch of a £30 million computer system from McKessonHBOC after staff at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary complained that they couldn’t access vital information on it.

According to a report in the The Scotsman, deployment has been hit by a series of delays, leaving the hospital without the system it should have had up and running two years ago. One hospital insider described the system as ‘a shambles’.

The planned system involves the computerisation of all records with the aim of ensuring access to more up-to-date information, and would have allowed staff to access patient information at their bedsides.

However, unions said that staff had no faith in the system, and called on the Lothian Health Board to drop the project entirely.

Tom Waterson, Unison branch secretary, said: "We have always had concerns about the HIS programme. We have urged, and will continue to urge, the management team to look at whether we need to go ahead with this contract or not.

"The staff we have spoken to do not have faith in the system. It can’t deliver the system it promised to deliver. People raised concerns at the very start that this system has never been tested before anywhere in the world."

In a statement, the Lothian Health Board said the changing nature of the technology infrastructure in the UK meant that it was "no longer feasible to realise the vision" that the project entailed.

The Health Board also noted that no money has been paid to McKesson during the project so far. Consultation with staff affected by the termination of the contract has already begun.

McKesson has strong links with the NHS: In 2001 the company signed a £13.5 million outsourcing deal to run all financial applications for consortium of 12 out of the 14 NHS trusts in Wales until 2009. It also runs an NHS-wide clearing service and is responsible for electronic staff records and payroll. ®

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