An NHS hospital boss criticised the new computerised medical records system today, saying it cost his trust an extra £10 million and meant fewer patients could be seen.

Andrew Way, chief executive of Hampstead's Royal Free Hospital, in north west London, said staff were "incredibly disappointed" with the IT upgrade on trial at the hospital.

The National Programme for IT (NPfIT) aims to create a centralised medical records system for 50 million patients in England at a cost of more than £12 billion.

The Government believes this will benefit patient care and could prove vital in an emergency.

The Royal Free began trialling the e-records system last summer.

Mr Way told the BBC: "I think it is very disappointing that the work we had to do as a trust has caused our staff so much heartache and hard work.

"Many of the medical staff are incredibly disappointed with what we have got.

"I have personally apologised for the decision to implement the system before we were really clear about what we were going to receive.

"I had been led to believe it would all work."

He said the hospital spent an extra £4 million to get the system working, with added administration costs including 40 extra staff to handle the added workload.

And he said a further £6 million was effectively lost because fewer patients and problems with the system meant the hospital was unable to bill other parts of the NHS for work done.

He also said the Royal Free had been unable to invest in new equipment and out-patient bookings were taking four times as long.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Many elements of the programme are complete, and patients and clinicians are now beginning to see the benefits these systems bring to improve patient care.

"We are learning lessons from the deployment at the Royal Free of Cerner Millennium (the new computer system), which now has an effective patient record system, and we expect these lessons to help us improve further deployments."

Last month the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) warned of further delays to the multibillion-pound scheme and described progress as "very disappointing".

The programme is designed to link more than 30,000 GPs to nearly 300 hospitals.

As well as a centralised medical records system, the new service will provide an online booking system, e-prescriptions and fast computer network links between NHS organisations.

The medical records system means select information - such as a patient's current drugs, allergies and long-term conditions - can be shared among health professionals in England.

The PAC said the completion date of 2014/15, four years later than originally planned, was in doubt.

Security fears have also been raised over the confidentiality of patient medical records.

It emerged yesterday that pharmacists will be able to read them, prompting concerns from doctors' leaders and campaigners.

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