BRADFORD Hospitals new £22.2m electronic patient report system has attracted just four official complaints since going paper-free, the Telegraph & Argus can reveal.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed the complaints “with an EPR aspect” are now being thoroughly investigated and responded to via its official complaints procedure.

Trust boss Clive Kay has re-appealed for the city’s support and patience and apologised for any inconvenience caused by the new system’s launch coupled with the high demand on services which may mean longer than usual waiting times in outpatient clinics and wards.

Last week he told the T&A the enormous change-over on September 23 had gone “extremely smoothly” and better records would mean better care but did warn that patients might face longer waits while staff got used to the new system called Millennium and supplied by US software supplier Cerner. .

One of the complaints being investigated has been made by an Eccleshill couple after Emma Heal, 45, was admitted to Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Ward 20 Surgical Assessment Unit on September 24 with severe abdominal pain. She says her experience was “appalling” and claims it was a direct result of failures in the new computer system roll out which was “far from smooth”.

Her husband Richard Heal told the T&A: “All of the staff were apologising for the long delays due to the new patient records system. Doctors in the ward were unable to log in to the system to update records or prescribe painkillers and the ward was struggling to function. All of the medical staff appeared to spend the majority of their time attempting to operate the computer system.”

He said it took three hours while his wife was in a lot of pain just to be given a household painkiller and although a senior doctor prescribed morphine at noon that day, it took until nearly 6pm for the correct IT process to be followed for a nurse to be able to administer it.

Mr Heal, whose wife’s pain is still under investigation, claimed there were other patients on the ward who had similar experiences with two of them discharging themselves against medical advice because of the delays.

“It was very clear that the issues were not the fault of the medical staff who were working incredibly hard to battle against the issues caused by the IT system rollout,” he said.

The couple said they had to chase up a CT scan appointment after getting lost on the system and were told there would be an enormous backlog for referrals which could take weeks to clear because of the EPR system.

“In my experience patients have been left in extreme pain for hours and urgent referrals have not been made as a direct result of failures in the roll out of the new computer system. To imply that the impact of the system is only that some patients may notice slightly longer waiting times when they are being booked in for an appointment, or when staff are looking up records is misleading” he added.

Prof Kay said: “We’re very sorry to hear about Mrs Heal’s recent experience at our hospital. We cannot comment on individual cases but can confirm that we have received a complaint which will be investigated thoroughly and we will address any issues with Mrs Heal directly.

“Our new Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system is a huge change but one which will help us improve the patient experience, provide our staff with increased access to the latest patient information and help the trust provide even safer, more efficient care to the people of Bradford.

“Alongside other hospitals across the region, we continue to experience high demand on our services - and this, coupled with the launch of the new EPR system, may mean longer than usual waiting times for our patients in our outpatients clinics and wards.

“We would ask for the city’s support and patience during this time and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”