Sheffield NHS Trust Besieged by Data and IT Problems

An electronic patient record system has been blamed for a massive financial shortfall at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The so-called Lorenzo system has been fingered as a major problem by an integrated performance report carried out by the board of directors at the trust.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust went live with Lorenzo in September last year but, according to the report, it is one of the main reasons that Sheffield Teaching Hospitals has underperformed.

“The under-performance remains largely in respect of elective activity, out-patients, critical care and a larger than expected deduction for emergency re-admissions within 30 days. There are still data issues following the implementation of the new Lorenzo PAS [patient administration system] towards the end of September, which are creating challenges in reporting complete and accurate income figures,” the report claims.

Additionally, the report states that the operational impact of the new system has been largely negative for the Sheffield-based trust, with the booking and scheduling processes, particularly in out-patient services, being particularly detrimentally influenced.

Since the implementation of Lorenzo, the trust has seen a rise in did not attend (DNA) rates for outpatient appointments, with an analysis of the issues has shown that for some patients the DNA status was recorded incorrectly.

And the new system has also caused problems with a variety of administrative processes, which have concurrently affected pathway management.

This is obviously extremely concerning, as the Lorenzo system was essentially intended to improve administration at the Sheffield trust, whereas in reality the opposite appears to have occurred.

With the trust having seemingly openly acknowledged that the system is causing difficulties, Lorenzo system experts have been summoned to visit outpatient areas with the intention of recommending changes to existing processes.

The problems experienced by the Sheffield trust are a long way from being the first associated with a public IT system.

Major national projects have indeed been shelved owing to IT difficulties, with the government recently announcing that it is to review £500 million of Atos contracts owing to IT failings.

The report on The Lorenzo system based in Sheffield stated that the trust has been financially impacted by the implementation of the system, and that this remains of considerable concern.

It added that action was being pursued to improve the delivery of activity, efficiency and financial plans and to mitigate risks and to maximise contingencies.

“Resolving the issues following the Lorenzo implementation and getting activity back to normal levels is critical,” it said.

The Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is just one NHS trust facing financial problems, as trusts all over the NHS run up sizeable deficits.

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