Hundreds of patients have operations cancelled as hospital trust's 4m new IT system fails

Hundreds of patients have had operations cancelled or been given appointments at non-existent clinics after the failure of a 3.9 million new computer system.

Major glitches in the system have forced doctors to send patients home without treatment because their notes could not be accessed. In other cases, patients were given the wrong appointments.

The system, Cerner Millennium, was introduced at North Bristol NHS Trust in December and was designed to replace all paper documents – including medical records – and cope with about 30,000 outpatient appointments a month.

Glitch: Hundreds of patients were affected by the computer system failure

Glitch: Hundreds of patients were affected by the computer system failure

But despite a year of preparation and training, within weeks of its launch staff have had to resort to paper records as they battle to clear the backlog.

Affected patients have been told they will be compensated, although the hospital has insisted no one has been harmed as a result of the problems, which are not expected to be completely resolved for a further two weeks.

The hospital’s director of IT, Martin Bell, said the problems were due to the implementation rather than the system itself.

Managers have called for an independent review.

In an online post, one patient said: ‘I have been caught up with a “phantom appointment” with an “unknown” consultant offered by computer at 10 minutes past midnight!! Still waiting 6 weeks later, in pain, for another appointment.’

No one from North Bristol NHS Trust was available for comment. However, a statement on the trust’s website yesterday apologised to patients for the ‘disruption and frustration’, and offered reassurance that urgent referrals had been prioritised.

Simon Hill, spokesman for Cerner Millennium, said: ‘While we deeply regret the administrative disruption to staff and patients, we remain committed to supporting the trust in delivering safe, effective and high-quality care.’