Temp staff costing £100k taken on at Walsall Manor

Twenty-five temporary staff taken on at a cost of £100,000 to help with a new hospital computer system could have their contracts extended after problems continued.

Staff at Walsall Manor Hospital have complained that the new system was actually slowing them down in their work.

The new Lorenzo system at Walsall Manor Hospital aims to improve the way that patient information is managed. But frustrated workers say they are struggling to fit all their work into their day, fearing it could lead to mistakes in booking appointments and clinics.

Workers were recruited on a three-month contract to help - but bosses say the issues are taking longer than expected to solve.

A report by Steve Darkes, director of informatics, says: "Our latest estimates indicate that the stabilisation phase will take longer than the initial three months indicated within the project plan."

He adds: "Presently our estimate is that we will still be in this phase through July and August and that it would be appropriate at that stage to review if the ‘system has settled’ before progressing any further significant IT changes.

"A number of issues have arisen as part of the implementation that the Trust needs to get on top of to provide a stable base for the staff to adapt to the new system and for the Trust to have timely and accurate information.

"The 'business as usual' phase is proving difficult but with the continued efforts of those involved, progress is being made and some areas are returning to business as usual, but there remain many challenges. It would be prudent to describe our progress as steady."

He says the staff have made a 'valuable' contribution and that progress is being made.

But he admits: "Undoubtedly there is still a high degree of frustration for end users in getting to grips with the system although there is increasing acknowledgement that in some instances the Lorenzo system is highlighting areas where previously work arounds have been in place rather than robust systems."

The introduction of the Lorenzo system follows the merger of the hospital and primary care services into a single healthcare trust two years ago.

It will eventually mean the removal of the need for staff to physically retrieve paper files from storage rooms.

Latest figures show the cost of temporary workers at the hospital has dropped to below £1.5 million a month, as bosses battle to save money.

The bill rose to as high as £2m last year and was still up to £1.8m on agency, locum and bank workers at the start of 2014.