IT experts ‘trained alongside staff’ to use system

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THE use of private contractors to deliver the controversial electronic patient record system is heavily criticised in a report.

The Yorkshire Post has already revealed that contractors were given powers to authorise expenditure, in some cases for their own companies, for the development of the Meditech system at Rotherham Hospital.

Now further details revealed in a report by internal auditors PwC show a significant numbers of external staff were hired to help with training 3,000 users of the system over eight weeks - but the trainers did not “fully understand the system or the clinical processes”. One member of staff described training as a “complete fiasco”.

“It was very much viewed that individuals were repeatedly brought in who did not have sufficient experience and who had to learn ‘on the job’, sometimes attending the same training as trust staff. There was also a view that some of the staff appointed into key roles, did not have the right level of knowledge and insufficient technical and informatics experience for such a critical role,” said the report.

The report said expenditure of around £400,000 was incurred outside the formal contract which was authorised by management and in some cases external consultants. It says “it is unclear whether these costs were expected, monitored and, where appropriate, challenged as part of the contract management process”.

The report recommended clear arrangements were needed for authorising payments. It identified one case where there “clearly was a conflict of interest” although full details are still being withheld by the trust.

“Where external contractors are used or where an external contractor becomes an employee of the trust for the delivery of a specific project, that trust must ensure that the appropriate safeguards are put in place. This should include checking for any potential conflicts of interest, secondary authorisation and approval for transactions on behalf of the trust and/or a regular independent review of the expenditure authorised and approved by the individual concerned,” it said.

It found hospital staff believed the failure of the system was “inevitable” due to the behaviour of directors. Key members of the executive team “dismissed any concerns” about problems “so as to demonstrate that progress was being made”.