Cambridge University Hospitals rated 'inadequate' due to £200m IT fail

eHospital system at centre of trust's financial blackhole

Cambridge University Hospitals has been placed under special measures by the NHS regulator, after a failed £200m IT project plunged its finances into the red and left it unable to deliver key services.

Health watchdog Monitor flagged the trust as "inadequate", following concerns about staffing levels, delays in outpatient treatment and governance failings.

Cambridge is currently haemorrhaging £1.2m per week in cash and now has a £64m deficit this year – in part due to its mishandling of the project.

The regulator's investigation concluded the trust had underestimated the scale and challenges of implementing the electronic patient record system.

"These issues led to significant cost increases and a failure to realise the benefits the system could provide," said the regulator.

The hospital transferred 2.1 million records in October last year. When the system went live on 26 October, it was intended to allow medical staff to access patient records on handheld devices instead of waiting for notes.

However, Monitor launched an investigation in July into the trust’s finances and the impact of the £200m eHospital programme. The body said the introduction and management of the IT system indicated "wider issues with how the trust is being run".

Last week, chief executive Keith McNeil and CFO Paul James stepped down from the board amid the ongoing investigation.

Stephen Hay, Monitor's managing director of provider regulation, said: "Patients treated at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust deserve to receive the highest possible care, and so the failings that we and the [Care Quality Commission] have identified in the trust’s services are disappointing.

"It’s reassuring that the trust has already started to address some of the issues raised by the CQC and our investigation. But much more needs to be done and the trust’s leadership needs to act quickly to resolve these issues."

Jane Ramsey, chair of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and David Wherrett, acting chief exec, today issued a joint statement in which they apologised to patients for a lack of effective systems and processes across the Trust.

"We take this, and being placed in ‘special measures’ by our regulator Monitor, very seriously," the statement said. "Part of Monitor’s enforcement action means we have a number of clearly defined quality, financial and governance failings to rectify as soon as possible. We will take rapid action to address these concerns and maintain our record of safety and high-quality care." ®

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