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Think twice

Fresh questions have been raised about the cost of Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust’s controversial eHospital project, which continues to receive both praise and criticism from health tech aficionados.

The teaching trust’s latest board report reveals it is seeking further support from the Department of Health and Social Care after forecasting a deficit of almost £100m.

The report to the September board meeting said there were “ongoing discussions with NHS Improvement and [the DHSC] on support for the structural element of the deficit”.

The report said support was needed for debt restructuring and the trust’s “eHospital” system, which launched four years ago this month.

The programme’s contract was originally valued at £200m. It included a deal with electronic patient record provider Epic and hardware provider Hewitt Packard Enterprise, although the latter vendor was ditched earlier this year.

HPE was replaced with Northern Ireland firm Novosco. The seven year Novosco deal means the trust will end its £140m contract with HPE, which was originally meant to run to 2020.

The eHospital project may have won multiple awards, but the financial impact of the project will make national leaders think twice about making it a model for hospital digitisation at scale.

Moral compass

It’s goodbye to another long serving NHS chief executive, with Ron Shields announcing his retirement from Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust.

He has been an NHS chief executive for 21 years, the last five of which were spent in Dorset. Mr Shields was previously at Haringey Community Healthcare Trust and Northamptonshire Healthcare FT.

When he joined DHUFT on an interim basis in 2013, the community and mental health trust was subject to formal regulatory action. But this concluded in 2014 and earlier this year the trust was rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission. It delivered a £5m surplus last year, to boot.

Trust chair Andy Willis said Mr Shields had shown “passion” in the job and had a “clear moral compass”.

But he’ll be missed outside the organisation too.

HSJ reader Alison Tong, who has worked as an improvement director on the south coast, said: “What a huge loss for the NHS and the population of Dorset… He will be sorely missed by the trust and by the wider health community.”