PERFORMANCE: The vice president of the US firm providing new software for London Ambulance Service has flown in to lead the second attempt to make it live amid fears it will not be in place before the Olympics.

Ambulance service staff were left relying on pen and paper for more than 15 hours after the first attempt to introduce the CommandPoint call handling software failed in June. The trust has declared two serious incidents, one in relation to the failure to go live and one in relation to the response to a patient suffering a cardiac arrest which occured when the service was using pen and paper.

UK based technicians from software provider Northrop Grumman fixed four core faults but an additional 34 issues were identified. The initial timetable for resolving these issues put the next go live date in July 2012, the month in which the London Olympics will start.

Ambulance service director of information management and technology Peter Suter told last week’s board meeting that date was “unacceptable” and as a result developers from technology firm Northrop Grumman, including vice president Ed Sturms, had flown in to address the outstanding issues.

Mr Sturms has been assigned to work full time on the project until it has gone live.

CommandPoint is widely used by ambulance services in the US but this is the first time it has been introduced in the UK.

The system was introduced in London on Tuesday, 8 June at 5am but problems quickly emerged including ambulances being automatically despatched, flickering screens and work stations repeatedly losing connections with the server.

The service switched to pen and paper just after 10am. Despite technicians working through the night to fix the problem the attempt was abandoned at 3am on Thursday and the service switched back to the old software.

In his report Mr Suter said Northrop Grumman had acknowledged they did too little “to fully assess and understand how the LAS would use CommandPoint in operation” and the testing environment did not “sufficiently resemble the complexity” of LAS operations.

The report highlights a number of external pressures on the go live date including the Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June 2012 and winter pressures.

A spokesman for LAS confirmed a new date had not yet been set.

He added: “We are working closely with Northrop Grumman to resolve issues that emerged with CommandPoint before we reintroduce the system.”

A spokesman for Northrop Grumman said the firm was “fully committed to achieving a timely and successful transition” and was working with LAS to agree a schdule.